MJ News for 03/27/2014

7greeneyes

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hMPp://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2014/03/26/high-times-inside-the-pot-stock-bubble/



Inside The Pot Stock Bubble



When Michael Mona Jr. went before the Nevada Gaming Control Board seeking a license for his Mediterranean-style Sunrise Suites hotel and casino in Las Vegas, it didn’t go well. The board, reportedly wary of his ties to shady telemarketers, including one who spent time in jail, told Mona his application would be rejected. He in turn withdrew his application and subsequently filed for personal bankruptcy when the casino could not open.


Mona might not be fit for the gambling business, but 16 years later he has found a lucrative field that’s not as choosy: the pot penny stock business. Mona now runs CannaVest, the highest-flying stock in one of the year’s biggest market frenzies. With Colorado and Washington now permitting the sale of marijuana for recreational use, and 20 states allowing it medically, some 60 publicly traded outfits, many snarled in a tangled, difficult-to-track web of interconnections, have popped up, claiming to be pot and hemp stocks. Almost none, mind you, emerged via an IPO and all the pesky disclosure and scrutiny that come with that path. Instead, real estate, marketing and oil outfits have miraculously morphed into medical marijuana and hemp companies, either through reverse mergers or simply changing their declared line of business. And just about every single one is thinly traded on the over-the-counter bulletin board, or Pink Sheets, where promoters can push them with the enthusiasm of a campus dealer.

In terms of a bonanza, all of them trail Mona’s CannaVest, which has surged 1,260% since the start of 2013. Its financials aren’t pretty: $28.4 million of losses for the first nine months of 2013, on revenues of just $1.35 million, or about what a single McDonald’s franchise might gross. But its thinly traded stock? In February, when it was trading at $160 a share, CannaVest hit a market capitalization of more than $3 billion. At a recent $68 a share, it’s still high enough to make its largest shareholder, a Las Vegas lawyer named Bart Mackay, the first pot stock billionaire. Ostensibly. “In my view it’s a paper valuation and certainly not something I can take to the bank,” Mackay tells FORBES.

But Mona, the CEO, is trying to take it to the bank: He’s been quietly working to sell on behalf of the company a private placement of 10 million shares that can’t trade publicly for six months, according to an internal e-mail from Mona obtained by FORBES. The price: $1.50 a share, or between 2 cents and 3 cents on the dollar of the public value.


That should tell you everything you need to know about CannaVest’s prospects. Who needs the heavily regulated casino industry when there’s far more cash on the table in the penny stock market, with nary a protection for investors, save a warning from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last August to be on guard for “con artists behind marijuana stock scams”? Plus, some of the people Mona still gets to do business with have a criminal record or are under federal indictment.

Mona refused to be interviewed by FORBES. But he did respond with an e-mail: “We have not promoted our stock and have no investor relations firm. Our sole focus is to source and supply the highest-quality industrial hemp available on the market.”

Perhaps. But CannaVest also serves another purpose. The perfect window on a huge, emerging red flag for mom-and-pop investors looking for a way to cash in on the legalization of marijuana. A multibillion-dollar industry run for decades by criminals and now traded on the vehicle of choice for financially savvy swindlers and hucksters! What could possibly go wrong?

The genesis of CannaVest–and the pot-stock frenzy overall–can be traced to Bruce Perlowin. He knows the business well: He spent nine years in prison for drug smuggling. With another ex-con, Don Steinberg (who also went to jail for drug smuggling), Perlowin started the first publicly traded medical marijuana company in 2009. He got the idea after a CNBC documentary called Marijuana Inc. featured Perlowin’s drug-smuggling past. After it aired Perlowin was bombarded with calls and investment proposals.

Perlowin and Steinberg already controlled a company that sold debit cards and traded on the Pink Sheets, Club Vivanet. “Is there any sizzle in debit cards?” Perlowin asks FORBES rhetorically. “There was so much sizzle in medical marijuana.” To remove any nuance he renamed his company Medical Marijuana and was issued 40 million shares by the board.

What followed has been a textbook example of how to create buzz through wheeling and dealing with related vehicles. When Perlowin oversaw it, Medical Marijuana didn’t actually do much, offering educational seminars and consulting services. Then, in 2011, Medical Marijuana sold a huge stake by issuing 260 million shares to a privately held investment vehicle, Hemp Deposit & Distribution Corp., run by Michael Llamas, then 26.

Llamas became Medical Marijuana’s president. Assets began moving back and forth between the companies he ran, creating at least the appearance of progress. For instance, in April 2012 Medical Marijuana acquired 80% of a Hemp Deposit business called PhytoSphere, which was billed by Llamas in a press release as a biotech outfit that produces hemp-based products for pharmaceutical markets.


Llamas also created a joint venture for Medical Marijuana with Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Colorado-regulated manufacturer of medical-marijuana-infused products. Vincent “Tripp” Keber, the man behind Dixie Elixirs, hopped on Medical Marijuana’s board and soon appeared on 60 Minutes as the darling poster boy of the “green rush” going on in Colorado. (Keber would be arrested for marijuana possession in Alabama in 2013.) Frustrated casino developer Mona quickly joined the gang at Medical Marijuana, taking a stake in the company and sitting on the management committee overseeing the Dixie joint venture.

Medical Marijuana’s stock price shot from 3 cents to 20 cents. But the party stalled in September 2012 after a federal grand jury indicted Llamas as part of an alleged $10 million mortgage fraud. Llamas pleaded not guilty but resigned from Medical Marijuana–just as the SEC started investigating it.

Time to start fresh. Within a few weeks Mona left Medical Marijuana to become CEO of CannaVest, a new company that Mackay, the paper billionaire, created by using companies he owned to buy control of a penny stock company in the foreclosure business. New name, same game. Mackay’s share purchases were financed by a Florida physiotherapist named Stuart Titus, who–surprise!–had helped Perlowin raise capital for Medical Marijuana. Titus also backs a hemp multilevel marketing company.

Titus put $375,000 behind Mackay’s CannaVest play and also got millions of CannaVest’s shares. CannaVest then agreed to buy the assets of PhytoSphere from Medical Marijuana and Llamas’ Hemp Deposit for $35 million in cash or stock. Follow all this? Few people can–a fact that Mona himself apparently alluded to. “Your reference to this being a ‘shell game’ is offensive,” a Dixie Elixirs executive wrote to Mona last year in an e-mail obtained by FORBES. “I request you not say it again.”

Shell game. Three-card monte. Or just a flurry of dealmaking between related companies that happen to be publicly traded. Whatever you call it, CannaVest’s shares were poised to take off–and the architects stood ready for a great windfall.

Perhaps the most incredible part of the pot stock boom: Even though the Obama Administration says it will not enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states with a robust regulatory regime, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. “You can’t have an industry where they say, ‘We can put you in jail for the rest of your life, but we probably won’t today,’?” says Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor. “Who would invest in that? Who would put their money in that in terms of raising capital?”


In Colorado, for example, recreational and medical marijuana businesses have to grow and sell their product in the state. That is why Medical Marijuana carefully structured its joint venture with Dixie so that it does not actually do anything connected with marijuana. It is also a big reason that hemp–a variety of pot plants that has only trace amounts of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient–has become the buzzword with the pot stock crowd.

CannaVest says it specializes in producing and marketing industrial hemp-based compounds, focusing on cannabidiol. Some, including CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, believe the compound has medical effects that can reduce epileptic seizures. It’s still a no-no under federal law, but in 2004 a federal appeals court allowed a California hemp-soap company to import hemp that does not include concentrated THC. David Bronner, who runs the soap company, says the ruling did not contemplate cannabidiol extraction for medical purposes. “It was never considered,” says Bronner. “It’s definitely a gray area in the law that was not addressed.” CannaVest’s Mona says in a statement that the company imports through Europe in accordance with state and federal laws and that the 2004 ruling “makes legal the importation of nonpsychoactive hemp.”

Some proponents of cannabidiol worry that imported versions extracted from industrial hemp for medicinal purposes can be dangerous. That fear has been fueled by the former science chief at Dixie Elixirs, which has had a joint venture that is part of the daisy chain of companies related to CannaVest and still uses products made by PhytoSphere. She posted on her Facebook page in November that the cannabidiol-based products she was using before leaving Dixie were made from crude and dirty hemp paste. In addition, Charles Smith, Dixie Elixirs’ chief operating officer, sent an e-mail to Mona that has surfaced in a court document, saying, “We have questioned the quality of the product, in writing, especially in the most recent shipment.” Smith says in an interview that he was not referring to product safety. “We have great customer satisfaction and great reviews,” he says, adding that Dixie Elixirs tests cannabidiol to make sure it is safe.

In a statement, Mona pointed to Dixie’s testing and said Dixie “has never rejected our product, and in fact its independent testing has verified the quality.” But Martin Lee, director of a nonprofit that promotes the medical utility of cannabidiol, says he is concerned about CannaVest. “They are trying to get around the law that says [cannabidiol] is a Schedule 1 substance,” says Lee. “The history of the people running the show, the shadiness of the operation, suggests that they see a way to make a fast buck out of a population that is desperate for miracles, when you see the kids with epilepsy, for people who are sick.”


The one thing that isn’t murky here: the fortunes being made by those at CannaVest.

Of course, there’s Mackay. Even with the stock at $68, he’s recently been able to convert loans into 10 million shares–at 60 cents each. That 100-fold arbitrage is the large driver of his “billionaire” status. His pals Mona, the CannaVest CEO, and Llamas, the kid who ran its forerunner before he was indicted, helped him pull it off.

Here’s how: Last year an entity called Roen Ventures agreed to lend $6 million to CannaVest. According to a recent lawsuit against Mona in Nevada, filed as part of a $17.8 million judgment related to a land transaction, Mona and Llamas had formed Roen. According to the lawsuit, Mona had personally put up half that loan–and then sold his interest in Roen to Mackay for $500,000. Mackay acknowledges buying out Llamas. And then he converted Roen Ventures’ loans to 10 million shares of CannaVest stock at 60 cents a share. Voil?! More than $1 billion at the recent share price, when you include all the shares he owns.

Another winner: Titus, the physiotherapist down in Florida, who had bankrolled Mackay at CannaVest–and worked to finance Medical Marijuana before that. This year he’s been turning his paper profits into actual cash, taking CannaVest shares he had bought for a nickel each and selling them for as much as $150 a share, and pocketing $7 million, an SEC filing shows. “I have to say that, you know, this has turned out quite nicely,” Titus tells FORBES in an interview. Meantime, Mona’s son owns 1.25 million shares.

As for Perlowin, who went from felonious drug smuggler to pot stock godfather, he says he sold off his Medical Marijuana stake before certain people and assets morphed into CannaVest, taking out a cool $5 million. Today he works down the street from CannaVest’s Las Vegas offices, running another hot penny stock, Hemp Inc.

But he’s still wheeling and dealing with his old pals. Perlowin also says he and his family just bought 300,000 shares in a recent CannaVest private placement for $1 each, a discounted price that Mona says in a statement is “appropriate” given the lack of liquidity in the stock and the determination of a third-party valuation firm.

Perlowin also claims he’s slated to buy a large chunk of the CannaVest shares that Mona is peddling for the company at $1.50 each. “You want some?” he asked a FORBES reporter, who declined. Apparently, we are missing the gold rush. “Would you say Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Apple–were they overvalued when they started? Of course they were. It was the dot-com explosion,” says Perlowin. “Don’t you wish you would have bought all those I just mentioned? How dare anyone tell the American investor that any of these companies are not a good deal?”
 

7greeneyes

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hMPp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/03/26/no-legalizing-medical-marijuana-doesnt-lead-to-crime-according-to-actual-crime-stats/




No, legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t lead to crime, according to actual crime stats


Opponents of medical marijuana envision all kinds of insidious ways that legalizing the drug might lead to crime. Make marijuana more accessible, and more people will use it. If more people use it, more will tumble through the weed "gateway" to cocaine, or worse. Those people will then engage in crime to fund their hard-drug habits, or violence in the service of getting the stuff.

Furthermore: Once word gets out about medical dispensaries, those locations will become hotspots for criminals who now know exactly where to find prey carrying cash and drugs. Same goes for grow houses, which just invite property crime.

Pondering all of these dark possibilities, it's no wonder anyone suspects mayhem in medical marijuana laws. Actual historic crime data, however, suggest there's no evidence that legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes leads to an increase in crime. In fact, states that have legalized it appear to have seen some reductions in the rates of homicide and assault.

These findings come from a nationwide study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One (which is notable for the fact that no one seems to have done this crucial analysis before). Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas looked at the FBI's Uniform Crime Report data across the country between 1990 and 2006, a span during which 11 states legalized medical marijuana. Throughout this time period, crime was broadly falling throughout the United States. But a closer look at the differences between these states – and within the states that legalized the drug before and after the law's passage – further shows no noticeable local uptick among a whole suite of crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.

The robbery and burglary findings are particularly interesting, as those are the crimes we'd most likely expect to see outside of medical dispensaries. But what about the apparent declines in homicide and assault?

The researchers, Robert G. Morris, Michael TenEyck, J.C. Barnes and Tomislav V. Kovandzic, caution that this may be a mere statistical artifact of their analysis. But there's also a plausible explanation:

While it is important to remain cautious when interpreting these findings as evidence that MML reduces crime, these results do fall in line with recent evidence [29] and they conform to the longstanding notion that marijuana legalization may lead to a reduction in alcohol use due to individuals substituting marijuana for alcohol [see generally 29, 30]. Given the relationship between alcohol and violent crime [31], it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes that can be detected at the state level.

Their analysis controlled for other potentially confounding factors: employment and poverty rates in each state, income and education levels, age and urban demographics, per-capita rates of prison inmates and police officers, as well as per-capita rates of beer consumption (per the Beer Institute).

The results don't definitely prove that medical marijuana has no effect on crime (or that it might even reduce it). Maybe the researchers failed to account for some other crucial variable here, some common factor that further depressed crime in precisely these 11 states, precisely after the moment that each passed a medical marijuana law, masking the actual crime increase caused by the policy. Or, there's this interpretation, from the authors:

Perhaps the more likely explanation of the current findings is that [medical marijuana] laws reflect behaviors and attitudes that have been established in those societies. If these attitudes and behaviors reflect a more tolerant populace that is less likely to infringe on one another’s personal rights, we are unlikely to expect an increase in crime and might even anticipate a slight reduction in personal crimes.
 

7greeneyes

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You guys really have to check out the pics. It's great to see ppl like me represented...like me, I mean like us. :)


hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharda-sekaran/marijuana-stock-photos-media_b_5037980.html




Dear Media: This Is What People Who Use Marijuana Look Like


Global political and business leaders are talking seriously about ending marijuana prohibition everywhere from D.C. to Davos. Recent polls say a majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana -- and not just in the states you'd expect but even in Missouri, Indiana, Texas, Florida and Louisiana. In Washington State, Colorado and the country of Uruguay, marijuana is now legally regulated -- not to mention the twenty states and D.C. that have implemented medical marijuana laws since 1996.

It would seem that marijuana has finally entered the mainstream of U.S. and international politics.

However, someone has neglected to tell the many news outlets that continue to recycle the same old "Cheech & Chong" images that should have been retired decades ago. After all, half of American adults have tried marijuana and they can't possibly all look like stoner stereotypes.

Comments about the overuse of tired old "stoner" images have popped up recently onBloomberg TV, Huffington Post and Forbes. Most recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Matt Richtel took to Twitter to call out his own paper for using a stereotypical image (literally of Cheech & Chong) for an otherwise serious story about scientific studies on marijuana's impact on driving skills. I can't even count the number of times I've cringed while watching a serious news segment about the national debate over marijuana policy become overshadowed by relentless footage of guys wearing head-to-toe marijuana leaf accessories and tie-dye while ripping bong hits at a 420 fest. Similarly, Sheryl Sandberg and Getty Images recently partnered on a similar project to provide non-sexist stock images of women at work -- ones that don't look like outtakes from "Mad Men."

I had my own turning point of frustration last year, when I wrote a piece for NBC's news site The Grio about how the end of marijuana prohibition will affect African-Americans, who represent a vastly disproportionate share of the 750,000 people still being arrested for marijuana in the U.S. every year. What picture did the editors pick to run with my story? An image of a man emitting billowing clouds of smoke from the most enormous blunt you have ever seen in your life. I requested that they consider using a photo more appropriate to the piece, to no avail. Frankly, I was so embarrassed by the image that I didn't even share the piece among family and friends, as I normally would do.

Why do stereotypical images persist even though today's marijuana consumer might look more like your Aunt Bettie or your accountant than The Dude -- and now that vaporizers, edibles and topical creams have rendered the ubiquitous "joint" somewhat obsolete? One reason may be lack of existing images that show regular people using marijuana in an everyday context. After all, marijuana is still illegal in many places, and consumers may be reluctant to have their images plastered everywhere.

That's why the Drug Policy Alliance has endeavored to provide media outlets with ready-to-use stock photos of everyday people who use marijuana. These images, shot by San Francisco-based photographer Sonya Yruel, are examples of the type of photos that media could be using when doing a story about marijuana legalization -- patients who use marijuana to relieve debilitating pain, or people losing their homes and their jobs because of a marijuana arrest. We are making these photos open license and free to use for non-commercial editorial purposes, and we hope they will help make the jobs of editors easier and the content more relevant.

The stock photos we are providing are of California medical marijuana patients who gave us permission to use their faces in order to make these images available for open use to media outlets. Please feel free to use them for marijuana stories that are more geared toward accuracy than predictable cheap shots.'
 

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hMPp://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/03/pennsylvania_marijuana_bills_w.html


Pennsylvania marijuana bills would cut penalties for small amounts


A Pennsylvania lawmaker who's running for lieutenant governor has introduced two bills to lessen penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sen. Mike Stack, a Philadelphia Democrat, said at a news conference today one bill - SB 1307 - would make possession of less than an ounce of pot a summary offense for the first two incidents. After that, local prosecutors would have discretion to file criminal charges.

Possession of up to 30 grams, or about an ounce, of marijuana is now a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Stack, one of six candidates vying to be the running mate of the Democratic nominee for governor, also is introducing a bill - SB 1308 - to make it easier for people to have their records expunged of convictions for possession of small amounts of the drug.

Both bills were referred Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“These bills are not intended to be a commentary on the wisdom or health of marijuana use,” Stack said in a statement. “They are targeted at the wisdom of continuing an approach that is expensive, ineffective and misguided. These bills are a challenge to those who walk these halls and profess their support for smaller government at a lower cost to taxpayers.”

Reforming Pennsylvania's marijuana laws has been an issue in the four-way Democratic gubernatorial race between York businessman Tom Wolf, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty. Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner dropped out of the race today.

The primary election is May 20.

Stack said the bills have support from Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

“I firmly believe that possession of small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime because marijuana use has negative health consequences,” Williams said in a statement. “However, I appreciate the efforts of Senator Stack to ensure our laws related to possession of small amounts of marijuana are fair and provide prosecutors discretion to recommend appropriate sanctions."

The bills are in addition to legislation in the General Assembly's 2013-14 session that would legalize marijuana and create a medical marijuana program. Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, is backing both those efforts while running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who is seeking re-election to a second term, has said he opposes any liberalization of marijuana laws. The former state attorney general said he would veto any legalization bill, even if it was limited to medical uses because he considers marijuana a "gateway drug" whose use leads to more dangerous drugs.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the chairman of that state's Senate Judiciary Committee announced details this week of his proposal to legalize marijuana, tax it and use the revenue to pay to fix the state’s roads and bridges.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who is also municipal prosecutor in Linden, announced details of his Senate Bill 1896 on Monday, acknowledging that opposition from Gov. Chris Christie could seriously hinder it but pointing out “he’s not going to be governor forever.”

Scutari, a Democrat, said in addition to a bonanza of new revenue, allowing adults to legally buy marijuana to use recreationally would curb the drug sales-fueled crime that grips several New Jersey cities and reduce the number of people who get criminal records for pot possession. He also said regulators could ensure the safety of the pot people buy legally.
 

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hMPp://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-marijuana-dispensaries-could-move-closer-to-5352415.php



S.F. marijuana dispensaries could move closer to schools


Medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to move closer to San Francisco schools, child care facilities, parks and recreational areas under a recommendation the City Planning Commission will consider Thursday.

The proposal would open a much larger part of the city to cannabis clubs, which now are clustered in SoMa, the Castro and the Mission District, and virtually barred from residential neighborhoods.

The 1,000-foot buffer the city requires around schools and child-serving recreational areas bans dispensaries from much of the city, said Aaron Starr, the planner who prepared the report on the change. Trimming those buffers to the state-required 600 feet and making other suggested changes could create a citywide "green zone" where dispensaries are allowed that would be "five times the size of what we have now."

That's good news for the medical marijuana community, which has found it increasingly difficult to find places to do business in the city.

"Finding a location that works, finding a landlord who's willing and finding a neighborhood that's willing isn't easy," said Robert Jacob, executive director of the SPARC dispensary at 1256 Mission St. and the mayor of Sebastopol. "When we opened here more than three years ago, this was one of the few places in San Francisco where we could comply with all the city's restrictions."

Clusters of dispensaries
Concern about those restrictions, and the clustering of the legal pot clubs that has resulted, is why Supervisor John Avalos asked planners to look the problem.

In the past year, three dispensaries have opened along Mission Street in his Excelsior-area district, to the dismay of neighbors.

"I don't think we need two on the same block," Avalos said. Dispensaries "are coming in and residents want hardware stores and bookstores and more neighborhood-oriented businesses."

But changing the rules isn't going to be easy, since people in many of the city's residential areas, particularly San Francisco's western neighborhoods, have battled any effort to open dispensaries there. In 2010, for example, more than 100 people from the Sunset District showed up at a Planning Commission meeting to oppose a plan to open a dispensary on Taraval Street. Although the commission approved the dispensary on a 5-1 vote, the facility never opened.

Neighborhood opposition has been effective. According to the planning report, there are no dispensaries in the Sunset, the Outer Richmond, Parkside, West Portal, Haight Ashbury, Laurel Heights, the Marina or North Beach areas and only one in the Inner Richmond.

'Quite a burden'
"Patients ... assert that the city's location requirements are having a significant effect on their access," according to the report, which took five months to prepare. "This unequal distribution requires some patients to travel long distances to obtain their medicine and for patients who require a large amount of medicine and have to visit (dispensaries) several times a week, this can be quite a burden."

But while the report found that police have seen few problems with the dispensaries and that most of the cannabis clubs work closely with neighbors to resolve any conflicts, the opposition is unlikely to go away, especially when it comes to allowing the facilities to move closer to schools and playgrounds.

"Reducing the 1,000-foot buffer could be a hard sell to San Francisco's schools," the report said.

While representatives from the San Francisco Unified School District were included in the discussions leading to the report, the issue has not come to the school board, said President Sandra Fewer.

"There are things I would like to discuss, since this concerns our students," she said. "I'd like to hear about what (planners) are proposing and what safeguards there are, as well as any concerns from our principals."

While Avalos said he's willing to consider smaller buffer zones around schools, he has concerns.

"I don't know how easy it will be politically," he said. "There are a lot of people who aren't aware of the medical benefits of cannabis and others who want to exploit that and cause hysteria."

Adding to the problem are ongoing questions about the long-standing federal ban on all uses of marijuana, whether approved by a state or not. While the Department of Justice said in a 2013 memo that it will leave most marijuana enforcement decisions to the state, the national Drug Free School Zone program requires a 1,000-foot buffer around schools, and federal prosecutors have shown a willingness to enforce it, the planning report said.

Besides the smaller buffers, planners also want to allow dispensaries in more non-residential districts, such as those zoned for commercial, industrial and production, distribution and repair uses, as well as on the second floors of buildings. If those changes are adopted, planners would like to require buffers around new and existing dispensaries, which would eliminate the current clustering.

Applies to future shops
The commission can accept, reject, change or add to the staff recommendations, which will then move to the Board of Supervisors for possible action.

This new look at location requirements is not only for the medical marijuana dispensaries of today, but also for any future stores that could come from efforts to legalize recreational use of marijuana, such as now exists in Washington and Colorado.

"Whether one partakes in it or not, cannabis is a part of the city, its culture and its history," the report reads. "When cannabis becomes legal for recreational use in California, San Franciscans will likely demand that the city take a progressive approach on how and where it can be sold."

What's ahead
The San Francisco Planning Commission will discuss the report on medical marijuana dispensaries at its meeting at noon Thursday in Room 400 of City Hall. See the report hMPp://bit.ly/1o2dyJU.
 

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hMPp://www.boston.com/news/local/new-hampshire/2014/03/26/house-considers-legalizing-ounce-marijuana/xGifpkgZ0u1F1cnkDjmbGJ/story.html




NH House rejects legalizing 1 ounce of marijuana​


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s House reversed itself Wednesday and killed a bill that would have legalized up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational use for anyone age 21 and older.

The House voted 192-140 against the bill that also would have legalized growing up to six plants, allowed up to 10 cultivation facilities to be established and applied a $60 per ounce tax at the wholesale level.

The House had voted 170-162 in January to give preliminary approval to the bill and asked the chamber’s tax writing committee to review it. The committee recommended killing the bill because it legalized commercial sales of the drug without proper controls.

‘‘I don’t think New Hampshire wants to be known as the East Coast pot state,’’ said Rep. Mary Cooney, a committee member who said regulating the industry would be a nightmare.

Bill supporters argued consumers already are using marijuana without the protections the bill would provide.

‘‘This is the only way to break the back of the black market,’’ said bill sponsor Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester.

Rep. Joel Winters, D-Manchester, argued regulating marijuana would be the best way to keep the drug away from young children.

‘‘Drug dealers don’t check IDs,’’ he said.

Opponents argued the House should move more cautiously, pointing to a new medical marijuana law passed last year that is still in the process of being implemented and to a bill the House passed two weeks ago to decriminalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

Opponents said legalizing the drug would mean allowing its cultivation, distribution and sale which would result in the development of a commercial marijuana enterprise in the state. Rep. David Hess said no New Hampshire banks will take the risk of handling money from a drug that is illegal under federal law.

‘‘We don’t need a cash cow industry in the state for another reason: it breeds tax evasion,’’ said Hess, R-Hooksett.

Supporters proposed putting different agencies in charge of licensing, cultivation, testing and retail stores, but opponents said their proposed regulations were weak and without an umbrella agency to coordinate their actions.

The bill was modeled after one approved by Colorado voters last year and is similar to one Washington voters passed. Currently, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

The maximum fine would be $100 under the decriminalization bill the House passed. That bill would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The legalization bill would have eliminated those penalties.

The decriminalization bill isn’t likely to survive. The Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize possession of up to one-quarter ounce of the drug last year and Gov. Maggie Hassan has promised to veto it if it reaches her desk.
 

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hMPp://www.fodors.com/news/pot-tourism-how-to-buy-marijuana-in-colorado-10403.html



Pot Tourism: How to Buy Marijuana in Colorado


The lines to get into the recreational dispensaries have shortened, but still not completely disappeared, and all of the Mile High City jokes have been made. Even Stephen Colbert has addressed the topic at length on The Colbert Report. But the question remains: What does Colorado's recent legalization of recreational marijuana mean for tourists? Here are eight tips for out-of-towners to keep in mind:

1. THE CROP KEEPS ON GROWING
The expansion of pot shops around Colorado seems to be increasing by the day. When the new law allowing recreational sales took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, eager customers waited for hours in prolonged lines for entrance into 18 licensed storefronts. The number of recreational dispensaries in the Denver-metro area has now tripled since that time, with more than 30 new stores springing up around the city. In total, 160 licenses have been issued statewide as of this writing.

2. SIFTING THROUGH THE SMOKESCREEN
Locating these retailers, however, is easier said than done. There is no mention of them on the official websites of the Colorado Tourism Office and Denver Visitor Bureau in their lists of attractions. Instead, visitors should use either Weedmaps.com or Leafly.com to find the nearest location; pick up a copy of Denver's alt-weekly newspaper Westword for the latest pot-related news; or simply ask a local, as word of mouth tends to be the prevailing form of spreading the news on a recently opened location.

3. DIFFERENT TOKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS
There are myriad environments from store to store—from high-end boutiques to mom-and-pot shops—that cater to different customers. Before your trip to Colorado, it's worth doing some online research to find a preferred destination that suits your comfort level and shopping desires.

4. PIPE DREAMS
Once you've arrived at your desired retailer, which is usually accompanied by green signage that makes allusions to "care" and "wellness," it's time to select your product of choice. You'll find a wide array of with varying objectives and effects: smokeable indicas, sativas, and hybrid strains; hash oil; edibles; topical creams, and more.

5. BUDDING RULES FOR PURCHASE
The availability of recreational marijuana does come with several constraints and restrictions, of course. First and foremost, purchasers must be at least 21 years of age and are asked to provide identification before entrance. Next, based on ID alone, anyone with an out-of-state license is treated as a non-Coloradan, which limits the amount of marijuana that may be purchased. While Colorado residents may buy up to 1 ounce (a little more than 28 grams) at a time, visitors can take away only 7 grams, or the equivalent of a quarter-ounce.

Visitors can still purchase a wide range of products with this small amount. The dosage in each edible, for instance, is about 10–25 milligrams, so travelers can depart with an abundance of chocolates or mints. Lastly, all marijuana must leave the premises in an opaque, childproof container or bag, which is thrown in upon purchase or, in some cases, provided at minimal cost.

6. CASH FOR GRASS
As for what you'll pay to take advantage of the Colorado's recreational law, a gram of marijuana on average runs between $10–$20, depending on what you buy. Topicals also vary in price, but $20 is the standard charge. While cash is always an accepted form of payment, most dispensaries around the state also accept credit cards.

7. SMOKELESS IN PUBLIC
Now that you've bought your weed legally, it's time to light up, right? Not so fast. Whether in edible or smokeable form, marijuana use is prohibited in any public space, including on streets, at parks, and spots like hotel balconies that are visible from public spaces. In addition, the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, banning smoking in restaurants, venues, and most bars, was amended to include marijuana. It comes with fines of up to $500 for violation. Consumption in motor vehicles or public transportation is also illegal.

The law, however, allows for use in private residences, and a recent public smoking statute provides that decks, garages, and patios are also permitted. Although a slew of concerts and comedy shows now advertise as being "4/20 friendly" and the security at the venue might turn a blind eye, it's still not technically legal by the letter of the law.

Private membership–based smoke clubs such as iBake Denver and luxury cannabis tours that offer smoking areas, like Colorado Green Tours, are alternatives, but remain in something of a legal gray area as legislation continues to be hashed out. Cannabis-friendly hotels are also popping up, but are few and far between at the moment. On the whole, such options are on the rise as the state continues to wrestle with the application of the law.

8. SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM … BEFORE YOU LEAVE COLORADO
Per federal law, marijuana remains illegal recreationally in nearly every other state at this time, so you cannot take your legal Colorado purchase with you across state lines. The drug is also listed on the airport Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) list of prohibited items; as of January, Denver International Airport formalized its policy banning possession of pot on its premises, coming with it a $150 fine for a first offense, $500 for a second, and $999 for any thereafter. Unfortunately, what you buy in Colorado must stay in Colorado.
 

7greeneyes

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hMPp://rt.com/business/us-hemp-ukraine-aid-437/




Hemp aid: US considers buying industrial cannabis from Ukraine to bolster its economy

The US Department of Agriculture is looking to boost imports of hemp seeds from Ukraine, hoping this will help the country’s battered economy. However, they still do not know what it will be used for.

“We are now involved in trying to figure out ways in which we might be able to use the industrial hemp seeds that are created in Ukraine in the US,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.

Ukraine is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of industrial hemp seed, the term used to refer to cannabis strains cultivated for non-drug use. Unlike another, most known type of Cannabis grown for marijuana, industrial hemp lacks that same ingredient, THC, which causes physical or psychological effects and gives smoker a high.

Industrial hemp, being one of the earliest domesticated plants known, has many uses from healthy food to making paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction and even fuel.

Easy to cultivate, uses for industrial hemp are growing rapidly.

Ukraine is currently angling for aid from the International Monetary Fund, as much as $20 billion, while it has also been struggling with months of political crisis.

The Obama administration is planning to provide a $1 billion loan for the coup-imposed government of Ukraine, and is working with European allies on a broader package.
 

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hMPp://whotv.com/2014/03/26/medical-cannabis-proposed-legislation-announced/


(Iowa) Proposed Legislation Announced


It’s been a fight all session, trying to legalize medical marijuana for Iowa families.

“A mom never stops fighting for her child,” says Kim Novy of Altoona.
Novy wants her children to have access to a form of medical cannabis oil.
Her 12 year old twins suffer from Dravet Syndrome a rare form of epilepsy. She says their current medication isn’t helping.

“Right now they take three seizure medications they’ve been on as much as five, these seizure medications have stopped their ability to learn, if you give them too many medications it causes more seizures the side effects are horrible,” syas Novy.

Wednesday, Sen. Jack Hatch proposed legislation that would allow parents of epileptic children to travel across state lines to get medical cannabis and bring it back to Iowa without being penalized.

“It`s their courage that makes this an easy opportunity for us to go a little bit further when it comes to establishing and pushing a treatment and protecting them from any legal problems that they might have in trying something new,” says Sen. Hatch.

April Stumpf says something new is exactly what her 21 month old daughter Quinn needs.

Quinn started having seizures when she was born and her current medication is causing too many negative side-effects.

“You lose who your child is and what that personality is doesn’t come out anymore. She`s such a beautiful and amazing daughter that I want the best for her and I don`t want these blinding side effects or effects to her kidneys and liver,” says Stumpf of Riverside.

Both moms believe a form of cannabis-oil is the answer, but getting there will be an uphill battle.

“I want to step up awareness and talk and touch everyone I can,” says Stumpf.

Unlike prior medical marijuana legislation, this proposal is seeing more bi-partisan support.

However, it will need the governor’s signature to pass. Governor Branstad has said he will veto any legislation that would allow marijuana to be prescribed as medicine.
 

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