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Legislation to Legalize Cannabis Introduced in Rhode Island
February 12, 2014
TheJointBlog

Legislation to legalize recreational cannabis was formally introduced today in Rhode Island.

The proposal, sponsored by Senator Josh Miller, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and Representative Edith H. Ajello, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, would legalize the possession, private cultivation and sales of cannabis for those 21 and older.

Under the proposed law, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, and the cultivation of up to two plants, would be legal for anyone 21 and older; state-licensed cannabis retail outlets would be authorized to distribute cannabis.

The measure would establish a $50-per-ounce tax rate on cannabis (from grower to retailer), in addition to a 10% tax on sales.

According to polling released late last month, 53% of those in Rhode Island support the legalization of cannabis, with 41% opposed.




Chronicle AM--February 12, 2014
by Phillip Smith, February 12, 2014
StopTheDrugWar

Overdose prevention is big news today as the drug czar chimes in in favor, more than a dozen congressmen call on Obama to re- or de-schedule marijuana, the Italian Supreme Court undoes a bad drug law, and more. Let's get to it:

Eighteen Congressmen Call for Marijuana Rescheduling or Descheduling. In a Wednesday letter to the White House, 18 congressmen urged President Obama to tell Attorney General Holder to ease up on marijuana. "We request that you instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II. Furthermore, one would hope that your Administration officials publicly reflect your views on this matter," said the letter signed by 17 Democrats and one Republican. The letter's lead author is Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Texas Governor Candidate Wendy Davis Says She Would Consider Decriminalization, Supports Medical Marijuana. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis told the Dallas Morning News editorial board she would consider decriminalizing marijuana possession and she supports medical marijuana. "We as a state need to think about the cost of that incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we’re really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession," Davis said. "I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for. Certainly as governor I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that."

Pennsylvania Governor Candidate Allyson Schwartz Calls for Decriminalization, Supports Medical Marijuana. Leading contender for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination US Rep. Allyson Schwartz told the Philadelphia Weekly Monday she favors decriminalization and medical marijuana. "I do believe that marijuana is over-criminalized. And what we should do is decriminalize possession," she said. She also said she would sign a pending medical marijuana bill. "If it came to my desk, I would be supportive," she said.

New Mexico Senate Rules Committee Stalls Marijuana Legalization Resolution. State Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernallillo) saw his Senate Joint Resolution 10 stalled on a tie vote in the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday. The bill would have legalized possession for those 21 and over and set up a regulated system of marijuana commerce.

New Mexico House Committee Approves Study of Legalization Effects. A measure that asks the Legislative Finance Committee to study the effects of marijuana legalization in other states passed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee Tuesday. House Memorial 38, filed by Rep. bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces), should now be headed for a House floor vote.

Arizona Decriminalization Bill for Small-Time Possession With Intent Filed. Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix) has introduced a bill that decriminalizes possession with intent to sale of less than an ounce of pot, make possession of less than two pounds with intent to sell a petty offense, and make possession of more than two pounds with intent to sell a misdemeanor. The measure would also decriminalize growing if the yield is less than two pounds. The bill is House Bill 2474; it has been assigned to the House Judiciary and Rules committees.

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Supporters Rally in Oklahoma City. Supporters of medical marijuana led by Oklahoma NORML rallied at Oklahoma State Capitol today, and also did lobbying and training.

Harm Reduction

Drug Czar Calls for Overdose Antidote Drug to Be More Widely Available. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office) called Tuesday for making the overdose antidote drug nalaxone (Narcan) more widely available. "The Obama Administration is encouraging first responders to carry the overdose-reversal drug naloxone," ONDCP said in a blog post. "When administered quickly and effectively, naloxone immediately restores breathing to a victim in the throes of an opioid overdose. Because police are often the first on the scene of an overdose, the administration strongly encourages local law enforcement agencies to train and equip their personnel with this lifesaving drug…Used in concert with "Good Samaritan" laws, which grant immunity from criminal prosecution to those seeking medical help for someone experiencing an overdose, it can and will save lives."

Boston Mayor Calls for All First Responders to Carry Overdose Antidote. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh Tuesday responded to a spike in drug overdoses in the city by calling on all first responders to carry naloxone (Narcan), a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses. Both heroin and prescription opioid overdoses have jumped since 2009. Walsh announced a series of community workshops on the issue.

Indianapolis Police to Carry Overdose Antidote. Beginning next month, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police will begin a pilot program where police officers are trained in the use of and will carry with them naloxone (Narcan) to reverse overdoses. Heroin overdose deaths have doubled in the city since 2011.

Maine Governor Opposes Bill to Increase Access to Overdose Antidote. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) opposes a bill to make the opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan) more widely available, saying it would encourage drug use. The sponsor of the bill, Legislative Document 1209, Rep. Sara Gideon (D), said the governor's health policy advisor told her he would oppose the bill. "His main objection is his belief -- and I have to emphasize 'his belief' because there is no evidence that supports this at all -- his belief that increasing the availability of Narcan or naloxone will lead the drug user or drug abuser to have this feeling of invincibility," Gideon said. The Tea Party Republican governor last year vetoed bills to increase naloxone availability and create a Good Samaritan 911 law. Fatal heroin overdoses in the state quadrupled between 2011 and 2012.

Drugged Driving

New Mexico Drugged Driving Bill Advances. A drugged driving bill passed out of the House Transportation and Public Works Committee Tuesday. House Bill 190, filed by Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque), would make driving with any detectable level of controlled substances, including marijuana and prescribed drugs evidence of driving under the influence of drugs. Such evidence would not automatically guarantee a conviction, but could be used to shore up prosecutions. The bill ran into opposition from, among others, the Drug Policy Alliance, which said it was likely to entrap regular users of marijuana or medical marijuana. The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee.

Synthetic Drugs

Missouri Synthetic Drugs Bill Advances. A bill that adds several specific substances to the state's list of banned synthetic cannabinoids advanced on a voice vote in the House Tuesday. House Bill 1051 is designed to "basically to stay ahead of or try to keep up with new chemicals as they come out," said bill sponsor Rep. Shawn Rhoads (R-West Plains). The bill needs one more House vote before moving to the Senate.

International

Italian Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Equating Marijuana With Heroin. The Italian Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a 2006 law that removed the distinction between "soft" and "hard" drugs, stiffening prison sentences for marijuana and hash offenders, and filling the country's prisons with low- level pot offenders. The expectation is that thousands of them will soon be freed.

Groups Call for UN to Freeze Vietnam Anti-Drug Aid Over Death Penalty. Harm Reduction International and the anti-death penalty groups Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty have called on the United Nations to freeze anti-drug aid for Vietnam after it sentencing 30 people to die for heroin trafficking. In a letter to the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), they said they had raised concern for several years about UN support for countries that impose the death penalty for drug offences and that UNODC had internal human rights guidance that required it "to cease support for a country if it is feared the support may facilitate executions." UNODC had not replied as of Wednesday afternoon.

Marijuana Seeds Dropped from Slovak Controlled Substances List, New Drugs Added. President Ivan Gasparovic Tuesday signed legislation that will drop marijuana seeds from the list of illegal drugs in Slovakia because they do not contain cannabinoids. But the updated list will now include eight new drugs, including buphedrone, desoxypipradrol and 4- methylamphetamine, and it down-schedules GHB to allow doctors to prescribe drugs containing it.




Legal Weed’s Effect on Stoned Driving Remains Hazy
February 12, 2014
CN Staff

Colorado -- Less than two weeks after recreational pot stores opened their doors in Colorado, proponents of legalization appeared to have their first black eye.

A 23-year-old named Keith Kilbey, seemingly under the influence of drugs, crashed his car into a state patrol car—which then crashed into another state patrol car. A day after the incident, an official spokesperson said they suspected that the driver had been using marijuana.

A month later, it’s unclear whether Kilbey was actually stoned, and even less clear whether he purchased marijuana at a new pot shop. And a young man poised to be harbinger of all the stoned drivers to come is now a reminder of how long it’s going to be before Colorado and Washington can really tell what impact legal weed is making on their states.

The potential for legal marijuana to yield more impaired drivers on the road has been a talking point throughout the political process in both states—as well as states like Alaska that may soon be voting on legalization—but the reality of that risk and how to assess it are pretty hazy. “It’s generally part of this conversation everywhere,” says Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s not an easy question.”

While alcohol regulations have given officials a starting point for developing some marijuana-related rules, like how far vendors have to be from schools, there’s no simple parallel when it comes to driving. “It’s not like alcohol,” says Emily Wilfong, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation. “People metabolize it differently. There are different potencies. So there’s really no solution in terms of saying ‘you’re now at the limit.’”

Colorado will start spending $430,000 of federal grant money in March on an awareness campaign driving home the message that driving while high is illegal; the state will put up posters in pot dispensaries and broadcast ads with the tagline, “Drive high, get a DUI.” Wilfong says that the campaign won’t, however, include any advice like how long someone should wait to drive after smoking weed or eating a pot brownie. “I just don’t think there’s enough research that we can say ‘Wait x amount of hours before getting on the road,’” says Wilfong. “I don’t know whether it’s five hours or 10 hours or the next day. We just don’t know.”

Both Colorado and Washington have, technically, settled on limits for how much THC a driver can have in his or her system while behind the wheel: a maximum of five nanograms per milliliter of blood. But there’s no handy chart that translates that scientific gobbledygook into as easy self-assessment. Various studies have tried to suss out how long marijuana remains in the system but reached no single conclusion that could be used as the basis for new DUI laws. Brian Vicente, a lawyer at a Denver firm that deals solely in marijuana-related issues, points out that research on high driving conducted in pre- legalization days often lacks the necessary context, like distinguishing between active THC (which might stay in someone’s blood for a few hours) and metabolized (which can remain for weeks).

Confusion about exactly how high is too high to drive—particularly for habitual users like medical marijuana patients, who may always have significant levels of active THC in their blood—also puts law enforcement in a precarious position, in part because administering a breathalyzer to determine a driver’s blood-alcohol content is a far cry from performing the blood test needed to measure THC levels. The last time Jason Hicks, a sergeant with the Washington State Patrol, sought a search warrant required to get such a test, he had to wait 45 minutes.

Hicks emphasizes that it is not illegal to smoke marijuana and drive; it is illegal to drive once you’ve smoked enough marijuana to be impaired. Still, police have little doubt that ingesting marijuana affects driver judgement, he says. “Operating a motor vehicle is a complex, attention-dividing task,” Hicks says. “Any time you introduce a substance into your body that hinders your ability to divide that attention, well, now you’re not your hundred-percent best behind that 4,000 pound weapon.” Studies have shown that marijuana use can cause drowsiness, lethargy and an altered sense of time, as well as inhibiting people’s ability to perform divided-attention tasks.

In Washington, state troopers like Hicks are generally more interested in the straightforward signs of impairment than measurements of THC. “I could give you study after study after study that shows that at [a blood-alcohol content of] .08, there are levels of impairment with just about everybody,” he says. “I couldn’t produce those same studies when it comes to the five nanogram limit for marijuana.”

Troopers have all been trained to spot the effects of various drugs on drivers, including cannabis. Many signs of highness are the same as drunkenness: poor balance, slurred speech, watery eyes. And troopers are often tipped off by the same behaviors, like slipping across dividing lines, failing to maintain a steady speed or just sitting there when a red light turns green.

There are other red flags, like a green tongue or inability to cross one’s eyes, that are potential reactions to pot that alcohol doesn’t share. Troopers sniff the air, perform the same field sobriety tests they do for suspected drunkenness, like asking drivers to stand on one leg, and make their best assessment. “It’s the totality of the circumstances,” Hicks says.

Statistics released by the Washington State Patrol last November suggested that the number of drivers who used weed may be on the rise; while about 1,000 drivers tested positive for marijuana in each of 2011 and 2012, 745 tested positive in just the first six months of 2013. Hicks says, however, that the total number of arrests made for driving under the influence of drugs decreased during the first year pot was legal in the Evergreen State, from 1,621 in 2012 to 1,357 in 2013.

The rub is that the Washington authorities don’t break down those statistics into how many drivers tested positive for cocaine or marijuana or speed—so the number of pot-related arrests is unknown. Colorado, similarly, conflates arrests for driving while high with arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, meaning that hard answers to the question of whether legal marijuana leads to more impaired driving are going to be hard to come by for some time.

So far, Denver lawyer Vicente says, he hasn’t seen any uptick in clients flocking to his firm because they got arrested for driving while high. The state has been aggressive in getting out the message that it’s illegal to consume weed in a vehicle or drive while stoned, and marijuana users may be aware that their behavior could affect pot’s chances of being legalized elsewhere. “People realize that Colorado is really under the microscope,” Vicente says. “And it’s our duty as a state to be responsible.”

Source: Time Magazine (US) Author: Katy Steinmetz




Judge rejects cannabis plantation claim
12 February 2014
Court Reporter

A WOMAN who grew cannabis in the garden and a bedroom of her home to help ease the symptoms of her chronic lung condition emphysema has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

A judge heard Diane Doyle had been ‘quite pleased’ with her success after planting some seeds in the garden during the summer so had started growing more.

The 50-year-old, of Alfred Street in Rugby, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to producing a quantity of the class B drug.

She was given a 12-month community sentence and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and to pay £535 costs at the rate of £10 a week.

The court heard in October last year the police executed a search warrant at Doyle’s home at just before 9am.

In a room on the first floor was a hydroponic set-up with a water tray, a pump and high- voltage lights, containing five small cannabis plants.

There was also a growing tent with two medium-sized plants and another six small ones, and outside in the garden were six mature cannabis plants being grown in pots under plastic sheeting.

Prosecutor Lee Marklew said if all the plants had reached maturity they would have yielded an estimated 627 grams of cannabis with a street value of £6,270. He added Doyle entered her plea on the basis she was growing them all for her own use.

Doyle, who had no previous convictions but did have a caution for possessing cannabis, at first told the police she would put her hands up to the plants in the garden, but that the others had nothing to do with her.

She admitted to smoking it because she has emphysema, which is generally caused by smoking, and claimed it helped her to sleep.

Stephen Bailey, defending, said there was a note from Doyle’s doctor setting out her medical conditions.

Asking the judge to consider a curfew rather than unpaid work, he said she had stopped using cannabis following her arrest, worked long hours at two jobs and had very limited free time.

But Judge Alan Parker told her: "The prosecution are far less cynical than I am about your intentions with this cultivation enterprise. I shall step back from my cynicism and sentence you according to the basis of your plea, but this is still very serious conduct."




Federal Court Strikes Down Italy’s Cannabis Law, 10,000 Inmates to be Set Free
February 12, 2014
TheJointBlog

Italy’s constitutional court on Wednesday struck down a controversial drug law – approved in 2006 – that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating or possessing cannabis, making the penaltyitaly equivalent to “hard drugs” such as cocaine and heroin.

The constitutional court said the law was “illegitimate”, without going into further details.

According to Reuters, this new ruling could set free as many as 10,000 inmates who were imprisoned due to the nation’s harsh cannabis policies.

The 2006 law, which raised sentences for cannabis possession, cultivation and sales from 2-6 years, to 6-20 years, has led to a drastic increase in those in prison due to cannabis; in fact, 40% of Italy’s inmates are incarcerated for a cannabis-related offense.

After today’s ruling, the 2006 law will be repealed, reverting the nation’s cannabis policies back to 1993, when it was considered a “soft drug”, carrying significantly lower penalties than the possession, civation or sales of hard drugs.

“The so-called drug war as conceived in North America has been lost and it’s time to return to rational rules that distinguish between substances,” says Franco Corleon of Society of Reason, a human rights group that praised today’s ruling.




New Federal Bill Introduced: The Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014
February 12, 2014
TheJointBlog

Yesterday Representative Steven Cohen of Tennessee introduced the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014 into Congress.

The goal of the new bill (H.R. 4046) is to “strike provisions that prohibit the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy from studying the legalization of marijuana, that require the Director to oppose any attempt to legalize marijuana, and for other purposes.”

Currently, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and its Director, commonly referred to as the “Drug Czar”, are required by law to “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use” of Schedule 1 substances – cannabis included.

The Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014 will effectively abolish the statute of the law requiring staff of the ONDCP to lie about cannabis and oppose legalization, if passed.




Companion Measures Filed in Kansas to Legalize Medical Cannabis
February 12, 2014
TheJointBlog

Lawmakers in Kansas have filed two companion measures in an effort to legalize medical cannabis in their state.

The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act (House Bill 2198 and Senate Bill 9) is designed to provide protection for patients, caregivers and physicians from penalties surrounding medical cannabis, and to create safe access points, or compassion centers, for patients to obtain medication.

The measures would also establish a “compassion board” under the Department of Health and Environment, as well as a patient/caregiver registry, complete with I.D. cards.

The bill reads as such:

"A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of cannabis in accordance with this act, provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of cannabis that does not exceed 12 cannabis plants and six ounces of usable cannabis."

Patients may also have up to 12 seedlings, which won’t count towards their plant/possession limits. The same rules apply for caregivers, who may assist up to 5 qualified patients. The measures define a qualifying patient as “a person who has been diagnosed by a practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition.” Qualifying medical conditions are listed as:

"Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, migraine, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, lupus, spinal disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and conditions for which cannabis has been found to be beneficial or the treatment of these conditions;"

or;

"A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: Cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including, but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis."

The measures also establish protections for patients from discriminatory practices, a cautionary step many medical cannabis measures miss:

"(1) No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to, or otherwise penalize, a person solely for such person’s status as a registered qualifying patient or a registered designated caregiver, unless failing to do so would put the school or landlord in violation of federal law or regulations. (2) For the purposes of medical care, including organ transplants, a registered qualifying patient’s authorized use of cannabis in accordance with this act shall be considered the equivalent of the authorized use of any other medication used at the direction of a physician, and shall not constitute the use of an illicit substance. (3) Unless a failure to do so would put an employer in violation of federal law or federal regulations, an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon either of the following: (A) The person’s status as a registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver; or (B) a registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for cannabis components or metabolites, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by cannabis on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment. (g) A person shall not be denied custody of, visitation or parenting time with a minor and there shall be no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this act, unless the person’s behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor as established by clear and convincing evidence."

A provision was also included to restrict authorities from cooperating with any federal interference of patients’ rights:

"Where a state-funded or locally-funded law enforcement agency encounters an individual who, during the course of the investigation, credibly asserts that such individual is a registered cardholder or an entity whose personnel credibly assert that it is a compassion center, the law enforcement agency shall not provide any information from any cannabis-related investigation of the person to any law enforcement authority that does not recognize the protection of this act."

If passed, the compassion board established in this measure will have 90 days to establish recommendations for regulations, and to determine requirements for those wishing to apply for patient or compassion center status. The bills state that:

"If at any time after the 110 days following the effective date of this act, the department is not accepting applications, including if it has not created rules and regulations allowing qualifying patients to submit applications, a notarized statement by a qualifying patient containing the information required in an application, pursuant to subsection (a) of section 7, and amendments thereto, together with a written certification shall be deemed a valid registry identification card."




Kent cafe could serve cannabis - would you like to see this in Plymouth?
February 11, 2014
The Herald

Councillors are considering opening an Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe in Kent.

Officials at Thanet District Council are meeting to discuss allowing users to consume the illegal Class B drug without fear of arrest.

Green councillor Ian Driver is backing the project and has invited drug experts and Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes to the meet on March 15.

Ian said: "The cafe would not sell or supply cannabis, but customers would be allowed to bring and consume their own cannabis on the premises whilst enjoying a drink and something to eat.

"The cafe would probably be run as a members club and would be a meeting point for people who use cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes and their friends.

"Dealing in cannabis at the cafe would not be allowed. Drugs policy is rapidly changing. The traditional prohibitive approach is being replaced by more tolerant policies.

"In the USA for example Colorado and Washington State have now legalised the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. Uruguay will shortly be following suit.

"These enlightened approaches will generate considerable additional tax revenue to fund the police and other public services and will also create jobs and help to eliminate organised crime."




Chronicle AM -- February 11, 2014
by Phillip Smith, February 11, 2014
StopTheDrugWar

California's narcs are whining about Obama's marijuana remarks, Coloradans seem happy with legalization, a Good Samaritan overdose bill is filed in Maryland, an Israeli newspaper talks pot policy, and a Colombian FARC representative lays out the guerrilla's drug proposals, and more. Let's get to it:

Marijuana Policy

Marijuana Legalization More Popular Than Ever in Colorado. A year after marijuana possession became legal in the state and a month after retail marijuana sales began, Coloradans are more supportive than legalization than ever, according to a new poll. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday had support for legalization at 58%, three points higher than 55% who actually voted for it in November 2012. And 73% said they wouldn't mind if their neighbors grew marijuana in their homes.

California Narcs Unhappy With Obama Marijuana Comments. California's narcs are displeased with President Obama's recent remarks suggesting that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol. In an open letter Monday, the California Narcotics Officers' Association took "strong issue" with the president's statements and warned that marijuana poses "significant risks to public health." The full text of the letter is at the link.

Wyoming Activists "Walk for Weed" at State Capitol. Several dozen marijuana legalization activists demonstrated at the state capitol in Cheyenne Monday armed with signs reading "Legalize, Not Legal Lies" and "Turning a Red State Green in 2016." The protest was an action by Wyoming NORML, which aims to put a legalization initiative on the ballot then.

North Carolina Legislator Vows to Introduce Legalization Measure. Rep. Kelly Alexander (D- Mecklenburg) said Monday he will introduce a marijuana legalization constitutional amendment when the legislature reconvenes in May. "It's an inevitable thing," he said. "Trying to stop that movement reminds me of somebody marching out to the beach, holding up their hand and saying the tide will not rise."

Medical Marijuana

Washington State Bills to Fold Medical Marijuana into Legal Marijuana System Moving. A pair of state Senate bills that would end collective gardens for medical marijuana patients advanced last Friday, while a House bill that would reduce the amount of medicine and the number of plants patients or caregivers can possess moved on Monday. Senate Bill 5887 and Senate Bill 6178 each passed 6-1 in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor on Friday. Both were second substitute versions. House Bill 2149 passed out of the House Appropriations Committee Monday.

Georgia CBD Medical Marijuana Bill Needs Revisions, Sponsor Says. After a three-hour committee hearing Monday, state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), the sponsor of the CBD medical marijuana bill, House Bill 885, said it needed significant revisions before it could advance in the House. The hearing included searing testimony from parents of children suffering seizures, but also from physicians who said the use of CBD cannabis oils needed more study. Another hearing is set for Thursday.

Drug Testing

Illinois Bill to Drug Test Food Stamp Recipients, General Assembly Candidates Filed. A bill that would require candidates for the state House and Senate to undergo drug testing and bar them from running if they test positive has been filed in Illinois. Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsythe) said he introduced House Bill 5292 with the political candidate provision because he thinks elected officials should be held to the same standards as food stamp recipients. The bill also calls for mandatory suspicionless drug testing of food stamp recipients. Requiring drug tests of candidates for office, and requiring drug tests of public benefits recipients without individualized suspicion, have both been held unconstitutional by the federal courts.

Harm Reduction

Maryland Good Samaritan 911 Overdose Prevention Bill Proposed. Delegate Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore) today proposed a bill that would offer limited immunity for nonviolent drug possession charges if that person contacts police or emergency personnel for reports of an overdose. "While I don't condone illegal drug or alcohol use or abuse, we should make sure overdose victims are brought to safety and not allow them die out of fear of being arrested," said Cardin in a statement. "There is strong evidence that overdose victims and their friends would often rather let someone die than call emergency personnel. This should never happen. This law is a common sense way to literally save thousands of lives." The bill was not yet on the legislative web site as of Tuesday afternoon.

International

In-Depth Interview with FARC Representative on Colombian Guerrilla Group's Drug Policy Proposals. The Voice of Russia has recorded an extensive interview with FARC peace delegation member Laura Villa on the FARC's drug policy proposals, which begin from the premise that drug prohibition has failed. FARC policies call for respect for the coca leaf, decriminalization of the coca crop (in the context of land reform), a public health approach to drug consumption, as well as demilitarization, an end to aerial eradication, and compensation for victims of eradication. The entire interview is quite illuminating and worth the read.

Israel Hayom Debates Marijuana Legalization. Editors and contributors to Israel's largest circulation daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, debated marijuana legalization in the Holy Land. Check out the debate by clicking on the link.




Cannabis worth £190,000 recovered after police raid in Glasgow
STV News

Two men have been arrested following the discovery of a large quantity of drugs.

Police Scotland Officers acting under warrant searched a house in Kirkland Street, in the Maryhill area of Glasgow, at around 5.50pm on Tuesday.

They recovered a quantity of drugs, believed to be cannabis, with an estimated street value of £192,000.

Two men, aged 33 and 34 years, have been arrested and are being held in police custody.

A full report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.




Cannabis May Treat HIV, According to New Study
February 11, 2014
TheJointBlog

A new study published in this month’s issue of the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses has found that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – one of the primary compounds found in cannabis may provide an effective, safe and natural treatment for those with HIV.

“Our studies have demonstrated that chronic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration results in a generalized attenuation of viral load and tissue inflammation in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected male rhesus macaques”, claims the study’s abstract. “Gut-associated lymphoid tissue is an important site for HIV replication and inflammation that can impact disease progression.”

For the study, researchers “used a systems approach to examine the duodenal immune environment in 4- to 6-year-old male rhesus monkeys inoculated intravenously with SIVMAC251 after 17 months of chronic THC administration (0.18–0.32 mg/kg, intramuscularly, twice daily).”

It was then found that “duodenal tissue samples excised from chronic THC- (N=4) and vehicle (VEH)-treated (N=4) subjects at 5 months postinoculation showed lower viral load, increased duodenal integrin beta 7+(β7) CD4+ and CD8+ central memory T cells, and a significant preferential increase in Th2 cytokine expression.”

Furthermore, researchers were able to note a positive alteration of genes in the animals treated with THC; “Gene array analysis identified six genes that were differentially expressed in intestinal samples of the THC/SIV animals when compared to those differentially expressed between VEH/SIV and uninfected controls. These genes were identified as having significant participation in (1) apoptosis, (2) cell survival, proliferation, and morphogenesis, and (3) energy and substrate metabolic processes.”

They continue; “Additional analysis comparing the duodenal gene expression in THC/SIV vs. VEH/SIV animals identified 93 differentially expressed genes that participate in processes involved in muscle contraction, protein folding, cytoskeleton remodeling, cell adhesion, and cell signaling. Immunohistochemical staining showed attenuated apoptosis in epithelial crypt cells of THC/SIV subjects.”

Researchers conclude that; “Our results indicate that chronic THC administration modulated duodenal T cell populations, favored a pro-Th2 cytokine balance, and decreased intestinal apoptosis. These findings reveal novel mechanisms that may potentially contribute to cannabinoid-mediated disease modulation.”

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Departments of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Medicine at Louisiana State University, can be found by clicking here




New Study Concludes Cannabis Increases Appetite by Enhancing Sense of Smell
February 11, 2014
TheJointBlog

A new study published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience has revealed why cannabis can act as an appetite stimulant.

A group of European scientists examined the standard smelling and eating patterns of mice, and compared them to patterns exhibited by mice given THC.

Both groups of mice were offered almond and banana oils; while the mice in the control group sniffed the oils and eventually lost interest, the group of mice who were administered THC just kept sniffing. When offered food, the mice who were given THC also ate substantially more than the control group.

Upon examining another group of mice that had been fasted 24 hours, the researchers found results similar to those seen in the mice given THC.

The scientists genetically engineered a group of mice without CB1 receptors in their olfactory bulb (the part of the brain responsible for sense of smell), and found that administering THC no longer had the same effect; the mice reacted to smells the same as the control group, and no longer exhibited an increased appetite.

Researchers determined that cannabinoid receptors located in the olfactory bulb were triggered by the THC, which acts as an imitation of the endocannabinoids naturally produced when experiencing hunger – thus, enhancing the sense of smell and increasing the appetite of the mice.

These results reveal why cannabis offers such an effective treatment for so many people suffering illness-induced appetite suppression, and indicates the strong potential for the plant’s use in wide-spread medical treatments.




Developments in legalising medicinal cannabis
International Law Office

The use of cannabis in all forms is strictly prohibited in Ireland.

Cannabis Regulation Bill 2013

On November 6 2013 independent Member of Parliament Luke Flanagan presented the Cannabis Regulation Bill 2013 in Parliament. The bill set out a draft framework for the regulation of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. The bill was debated and defeated by the majority (11 votes against and eight votes in favour).

If the bill had passed, it would have allowed for home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants and personal possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. The bill also provided for the creation of cannabis social clubs, allowing up to 50 members to cultivate up to 300 plants for not-for-profit use. The tax revenue from cannabis would have been used to fund drug addiction services, medical research and juvenile education courses on drugs.

The bill proposed to establish the Cannabis Regulation Authority in order to develop and maintain a regulatory framework for the granting of licences for the cultivation, wholesale and retail of cannabis or cannabis-infused products. A medicinal cannabis retail licence was to be granted to pharmacies permitting the sale of cannabis and cannabis- induced products for medicinal purposes. The bill provided for the Cannabis Research Institute to carry out medical research and educate medical professionals, among others, on the use of cannabis.

Regulations in respect of labelling, advertising and marketing of cannabis and cannabis-infused products were included in the bill, together with details of offences and penalties for unlicensed cultivation, and the sale and possession of unlicensed cannabis products.

Regulations to allow medicinal cannabis

Notwithstanding the bill's defeat in the Dáil, the Irish government has published a consultation paper on the Draft Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations, which will allow for a newly authorised medicinal product containing cannabis extract to be prescribed, supplied and used by patients. In August 2013 the government sought input from stakeholders and interested parties on the draft regulations.

The consultation paper proposes to amend anti-drug laws to exclude specific medicinal products containing cannabis, while maintaining controls on cannabis in line with government policy. Specifically, the draft regulations refer to a product called Sativex (nabiximols), a cannabis-based oral spray that has been authorised in other EU member states for the relief of symptoms of spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis.

While no date has been set for implementation of the draft regulations, the Irish Medicines Board has received a market authorisation application from a pharmaceutical company for Sativex and has recommended approval of the medicinal product for the Irish market.




New York State announces marijuana reforms: plans will allow limited use of medical marijuna




New Poll: Support for Cannabis Legalization Continues to Grow in Colorado
February 10, 2014
TheJointBlog

A new poll released today from Quinnipiac University has found that Coloradans continue to support legalization – and that support is only growing.

The poll surveyed 1,139 registers Colorado voters, and found that a majority of respondents were generally in favor of cannabis legalization, and specifically Amendment 64 (A64 was the constitutional amendment passed in 2012 that legalized recreational cannabis in the State of Colorado). Of those surveyed, 58% said they support the legalization of cannabis – up from 54% when Quinnipiac conducted a survey asking the same question in August of last year.

The number of those who opposed legalization dropped from 41% to 39%, and the number of people who “didn’t know” where they stood on legalization dropped from 5% to 4%.

Respondents were also asked if it would it bother them if one of their neighbors was growing cannabis in their home, and a vast majority (73%) said “No,” it would not bother them. There was no demographic, based on age, gender and voting party, that responded as a majority against it.

One particularly notable outcome of the survey was the response given when participants were asked, “Keeping in mind that all of your answers in this survey are confidential, have you, yourself ever happened to try marijuana?” Particpants replied that 51% had tried cannabis, 47% had not, and 2% “didn’t know” or declined to answer – the exact same results as the poll from August of last year.

These results offer strong implications that, despite prohibitionist conjecture that legalization could increase usage rates, legalizing cannabis does no such thing.




Chronicle AM -- February 10, 2014
by Phillip Smith, February 10, 2014
StopTheDrugWar

State legislatures are busy with drug policy issues, particularly marijuana and medical marijuana, a Texas grand jury refuses to indict a man who killed a cop in a no-knock drug raid, Mexican vigilantes are duking it out with the Knights Templar in Michoacan, and more. Let's get to it:

Marijuana Policy

Southern Cannabis Reform Conference in Atlanta Next Month. Peachtree NORML is hosting a marijuana reform conference in Atlanta on March 22. Click on the title link for ticket information.

Washington Bill Would Use Marijuana Revenue to Help Fund College Tuition. A bill introduced by Sen. Mike Baumgartner (R-Spokane) to effectively cap tuition rates at state colleges and universities relies in part on expected marijuana tax revenues. The bill, House Bill 6043 is part of Baumgartner's broader plan to improve basic education and ease the tuition burden on college students.

Legalization Bill Stalls in New Mexico Senate. A bill that would let New Mexico voters decide whether to legalize marijuana is stalled -- at least for now -- in the state Senate. The Rules Committee last Friday failed to debate it, but bill sponsor Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino said he hoped the committee would take it up this week.

New Hampshire House Subcommittee Meeting on Legalization Bill Today. A House Ways and Means Committee subcommittee is discussing the revenue and regulatory aspects of a bill that would make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol in the Granite State. House Bill 492 would make personal possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older. It would also direct the state to license and regulate marijuana retail, cultivation, production, and testing facilities. The subcommittee is expected to consider changes to the bill's proposed system for taxing and regulating marijuana. The bill has already passed the House once, but must do so again before heading to the Senate.

Los Angeles Mayor Suggests He Could Support Legalization. In an interview with a local TV station, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti suggested he could support an initiative that legalized marijuana. "[Legalizing marijuana] would make life easier to me in terms of the regulations... I think there's probably a majority of Californians that would like to see that, and I generally would be for that. I've never seen much of a difference between marijuana and alcohol... alcohol has rules around it," Garcetti said. "If we had something similar with marijuana it would probably be a good revenue generator." To listen, go to the 3:23 mark in the second video.

Hawaii Appeals Court Nixes Local Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative. The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled last Friday that a voter-approved Hilo County initiative directing law enforcement to make adult personal use of marijuana on private property its lowest priority is unenforceable. The 2008 initiative won handily in Hilo, but the county council failed to implement it. Both a district court and now the appeals court have ruled that state marijuana laws preempt it. Advocates vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Oregon Bill to Refer Legalization to Voters Gets Hearing Tuesday. A bill that would put a legislature-written marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot gets a hearing Tuesday. Senate Bill 1556 is set for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Medical Marijuana

Oregon Bill to Let Localities Ban Dispensaries Gets Hearing Tuesday. A bill that would allow cities and counties to ban dispensaries gets a hearing Tuesday. The bill, Senate Bill 1531, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Colorado Patient Wins Fight to Stay in Federal Housing. A quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was threatened with eviction from the Longmont Housing Authority has prevailed in her struggle to remain, and she has prompted the housing agency to create a new policy. Ashley Weber is that patient.

Support for Medical Marijuana in Guam at 55%. A University of Guam poll has support for medical marijuana at 55%. The poll comes as the Guam legislature considers a bill that would ask residents to vote in a referendum to approve medical marijuana.

Support for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky at 52%. The latest Bluegrass Poll has support for medical marijuana in Kentucky at 52%, with 37% opposed. Last year, the same poll had support for "prescribed" marijuana at 60%. This year's poll dropped "prescribed," and that accounted for the difference, said pollster Jay Leve of SurveyUSA. A CBD medical marijuana bill is currently before the legislature.

Support for Medical Marijuana Amendment in Florida at 57%. A Gravis Marketing poll has support for the state's medical marijuana initiative at 57%, with 31% opposed. But support dropped dramatically when voters were reminded that the production and sale of marijuana remained illegal under federal law, with 54% opposing, 27% supporting, and 19% uncertain.

Arizona Officials Propose Easing Rules. State health officials are proposing changes for Arizona's medical marijuana program, including one that would allow additional permit holders to grow their own. Click here to check out the proposed draft rules.

Wisconsin CBD Medical Marijuana Bill Gets Hearing Wednesday. A bill that would allow for the use of CBD cannabis oil gets a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Children and Families Wednesday. The bill, Assembly Bill 726, has three Republican cosponsors, but faces other hostile Republican legislators.

Methamphetamine

South Dakota Bill to Add State to National Monitoring System Passes Senate. A bill that would add South Dakota to the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) passed the Senate last week and now heads to the House. Senate Bill 24 is supported by Attorney General Marty Jackley and other state officials. Under the bill, retailers selling pseudoephedrine (e.g. Sudafed)

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