Mj news for 04/08/2015

7greeneyes

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http://time.com/3801889/us-legalization-marijuana-trade/





U.S. Legalization of Marijuana Has Hit Mexican Cartels’ Cross-Border Trade





The cartels are still smuggling harder drugs but advocates point out the success of legalization in cutting illegal trade

In the midst of this seething mountain capital, Mexico’s security ministry houses a bizarre museum — a collection of what the army seizes from drug traffickers. The Museo de Enervantes, often referred to as the Narco Museum, has drug samples themselves (including the rare black cocaine), diamond-studded guns, gold-coated cell phones, rocket-propelled grenades and medals that cartels award their most productive smugglers. It also shows off the narcos’ ingenuity for getting their drugs into the United States, including “trap cars” with secret compartments, catapults to hurl packages over the border fence and even false buttocks, to hide drugs in.

Agents on the 2,000 mile-U.S. border have wrestled with these smuggling techniques for decades, seemingly unable to stop the northward flow of drugs and southward flow of dollars and guns. But the amount of one drug — marijuana — seems to have finally fallen. U.S. Border Patrol has been seizing steadily smaller quantities of the drug, from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to 1.9 million pounds in 2014. Mexico’s army has noted an even steeper decline, confiscating 664 tons of cannabis in 2014, a drop of 32% compared to year before.

This fall appears to have little to do with law enforcement, however, and all to do with the wave of U.S. marijuana legalization. The votes by Colorado and Washington State to legalize marijuana in 2012, followed by Alaska, Oregon and D.C. last year have created a budding industry. U.S. growers produce gourmet products with exotic names such as White Widow, Golden Goat and Oaktown Crippler as opposed to the bog-standard Mexican “mota.” American dispensaries even label their drugs, showing how strong they are, measured in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient), and grade their mix of sativa, which gets people stoned in a psychedelic way and indica, which has a more knock-out effect.

Drug policy reformists tout this market shift from Mexican gangsters to American licensed growers as a reason to spread legalization. “It is no surprise to me that marijuana consumers choose to buy their product from a legal tax-paying business as opposed to a black market product that is not tested or regulated,” says Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “When you go to a legal store, you know what you are getting, and that is not going to be contaminated.” A group called Marijuana Doctors elaborate the point in this comical online ad.

Analysts are still trying to work out the long-term effect this shift will have on Mexican cartel finances and violence. The legal marijuana industry could be the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy. It grew 74% in 2014 to $2.7 billion, according to the ArcView group, a cannabis investment and research firm. This includes revenue from both recreational drug stores and from medical marijuana, which has been legalized in 23 states. The group predicts the industry will top $4 billion by 2016.

This means less cash for Mexican cartels to buy guns, bribe police and pay assassins. Coinciding with legalization, violence has decreased in Mexico. Homicides hit a high in 2011, with Mexican police departments reporting almost 23,000 murders. Last year, they reported 15,649.

Other factors may have caused this fall in killings, says Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former officer of Mexico’s federal intelligence agency. “Finances from marijuana could be having an impact on violence but you also have to look at other causes. Many of the most violent cartel commanders have been killed or arrested,” Hope says. These downed warlords include the head of the Zetas cartel Heriberto Lazcano, a former soldier who was known as the Executioner for the mass graves he dug. Mexican marines say they shot Lazcano dead in 2012, although his cohorts bust into the funeral home and stole his corpse.

Despite the drop in homicides, Mexico’s violence is still at painful levels. In September, cartel thugs working with corrupt police attacked a group of students, killing three and abducting 43. The atrocity caused hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to protest corruption and bloodshed. On Monday, cartel gunmen ambushed police in Jalisco state, killing 15 in one of the worst attacks on security forces in recent years.

A key problem is that cartels have diversified to a portfolio of other crimes, from sex trafficking to stealing crude oil from Mexican pipelines. They also make billions smuggling hard drugs. Seizures of both heroin and crystal meth on the U.S.-Mexico border have gone up as those of marijuana have sunk, according to U.S. Homeland Security, with agents nabbing a record 34,840 pounds of meth in 2014.

In total, Americans spend about $100 billion on illegal drugs every year, according to a White House report. The estimate puts marijuana at about 40% of this, so the legal industry still only accounts for a fraction of the total. One restriction to growth is that U.S. federal law still prohibits cannabis, making banking difficult and scaring investors.

In the long term, drug policy reformers hope for a legal marijuana market in the entire region. This would throw up the possibility of Mexicans legally producing and exporting their drugs to the U.S., taking advantage of cheaper labor. “Cannabis is not unlike wine,” says Sanho Tree, director of the Drug Policy Project at Washington’s Institute of Policy Studies. “I can buy a $200 bottle of wine, if that is what I am after. But many people will prefer the cheaper mass market product.” One advocate is former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has voiced support for an American entrepreneur who wants to import marijuana to the United States.

Any such cross-border market would require a change of U.N. treaties, which outlaw marijuana. These come up for discussion in a General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in April 2016. “I feel optimistic there will be change. This movement has momentum,” Angell of Marijuana Majority says. “It is interesting that the United States was historically a driver of drug prohibition. Now parts of the U.S. are leading the change.”
 

WeedHopper

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The same thing happened with Alcohol. When it went Legal,,it almost shut the Mafia down. whens the last time you Heard about the Mafia? Lol
 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/us/medical-marijuana-dispensers-trapped-by-conflicting-laws.html





(California/New Mexico) Medical Marijuana Dispensers Trapped by Conflicting Laws




BLOOMFIELD, N.M. — Charles C. Lynch seemed to be doing everything right when he opened a medical marijuana dispensary in the tidy coastal town of Morro Bay, Calif.

The mayor, the city attorney and leaders of the local Chamber of Commerce all came for the ribbon-cutting in 2006. The conditions for his business license, including a ban on customers younger than 18 and compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws, were posted on the wall.

But two years later, Mr. Lynch was convicted of multiple felonies under federal law for selling marijuana. He is one of hundreds of defendants and prisoners caught up in the stark conflict between federal law, which puts marijuana in the same class as heroin with no exception for medical sales, and the decisions by many states to authorize medical uses.

“I feel so left out of society,” said Mr. Lynch, 52, who is out on bond and appealing his conviction, from a battered trailer behind his mother’s house here in northwestern New Mexico. He is waiting to see if he must go to prison.

Now, though, a legal wild card has been injected into his case and those of several other defendants in California and Washington State.

In December, in a little-publicized amendment to the 2015 appropriations bill that one legal scholar called a “buried land mine,” Congress barred the Department of Justice from spending any money to prevent states from “implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In the most advanced test of the law yet, Mr. Lynch’s lawyers have asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to “direct the D.O.J. to cease spending funds on the case.” In a filing late last month, they argued that federal officials continuing to work on his prosecution “would be committing criminal acts.”

But the Justice Department strongly disagrees, asserting that the amendment does not undercut its power to enforce federal drug law. It says that the amendment only bars federal agencies from interfering with state efforts to carry out medical marijuana laws, and that it does not preclude criminal prosecutions for violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

With the new challenge raised in several cases, federal judges will have to weigh in soon, opening a new arena in a legal field already rife with contradiction and paradox. At latest count, 23 states plus the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana. Four states have authorized recreational sales as well.

“If any court, especially the Ninth Circuit, declares that the provision precludes federal prosecution of state-compliant individuals, this will be huge,” said Douglas A. Berman, a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University and editor of the Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog.

Such a ruling could put federal courts in the odd position of determining “when a state actor is complying with state law,” said Mr. Berman, who used the metaphor of a buried land mine.

In Mr. Lynch’s case, prosecutors have urged the appeals court to put off considering the issue until the hearing on his criminal appeal and sentence — which is not likely until late this year at the earliest — but also indicated they will not back down.

In a March 23 brief, Mr. Lynch’s federal public defender, Alexandra W. Yates, wrote that any delay would mean that “the Department of Justice’s illegal actions — and their chilling effects on California’s medical marijuana system — would continue unabated.”

Some also call the government’s quest for delay a cynical ploy as officials wait to see whether the provision is renewed by Congress in the next fiscal year.

The California sponsors of the December amendment, including Representatives Sam Farr and Barbara Lee, both Democrats, and Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, say it was clearly intended to curb individual prosecutions and have accused the Justice Department of violating its spirit and substance.

“If federal prosecutors are engaged in legal action against those involved with medical marijuana, in a state that has made it legal, then they are the ones who are the lawbreakers,” Mr. Rohrabacher said.

Mr. Farr said, “For the feds to come in and take this hard-line approach in a state with years of experience in regulating medical marijuana is disruptive and disrespectful.”

The sponsors said they were planning how to renew the spending prohibition next year.

The amendment aside, federal prosecutions of state-approved dispensaries have declined sharply in the last two years, particularly since the Justice Department issued a nonbinding “guidance” to prosecutors in 2013. That guidance recommended against pursuing dispensaries, growers and patients who comply with state law, have no links to cartels or interstate smuggling, and do not sell to minors.

New raids on state-approved dispensaries have largely ended, said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a private group that lobbied for the December amendment.

At the same time, she said, federal prosecutors have relentlessly pursued pre-existing cases like Mr. Lynch’s, and the effort to shut down the large Harborside dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Unbridgeable policy conflicts remain; two of Mr. Lynch’s five felony counts were for selling to customers who were over 18, as California permits, but under 21, as federal law forbids.

At Mr. Lynch’s 2008 trial, even the term “medical marijuana” was largely forbidden, as was testimony about Mr. Lynch’s compliance with California law.

Mr. Lynch opened his business after a decade working in computer software, and he was doing well enough to buy a modest house with an ocean view. He felt excited to be “on the leading edge of a new industry,” he recalled the other day. He had a personal interest too, having discovered that marijuana eased his severe migraines far better than prescription painkillers had.

Janice Peters, who served three terms as mayor of Morro Bay, criticized the prosecution of Mr. Lynch.

“He is such a soft-spoken, nice guy and to tear his life apart just makes no sense,” she said. When the dispensary opened, as mayor she gave out her card to neighboring businesses and asked them to report any problems. “There was never any complaint,” she said.

Given federal law, Mr. Lynch’s conviction in 2008 was no surprise. But at his sentencing the trial judge, George H. Wu of Federal District Court in Los Angeles, recounted Mr. Lynch’s efforts to obey local law and said there was no evidence he had known about infractions described by federal agents — that an employee had made secret sales on the side and that some of his more than 2,000 enrolled customers had received prescriptions on fraudulent pretexts.

“Individuals such as Lynch are caught in the middle of the shifting positions of government authorities,” Judge Wu said as he disregarded the federal request for a mandatory five-year term but said he felt legally compelled to sentence Mr. Lynch a year and a day.

Once Mr. Lynch appealed, the federal government revived its demand for a five-year sentence and also asked the appeals court to remove Judge Wu from the case in any future proceedings.

After Mr. Lynch’s arrest and the seizure of his funds, his family mustered resources for a bond, but then he spent nine months and 10 days under house arrest, with an ankle bracelet. Unable to find work, he lost his house. For the last year and a half, he has been allowed to stay with his family in this rural area of New Mexico, next to the Navajo reservation.

“I have no work and no money and I’m depending on others to survive,” he said.

While he waits, he spends his days tinkering on the trailer, repairing fences and practicing oldies on the electric guitar for a one-man band act he has developed.

His face came alive as he started playing “Paint It Black,” accompanied by computer-controlled bass, drums and flashing lights.

“I love to play,” he said, “but only on days when I feel good about myself.”

However, some local bar owners, he said, fearing involvement with a convicted drug felon, have declined his offers to perform.
 

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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nat...farm-burns-3-000-pot-plants-article-1.2177479





Seattle fire guts legal marijuana farm, burns 3,000 pot plants





It went up in smoke.:doh:

Seattle’s first legal marijuana-grow operation erupted in flames Wednesday — and about 3,000 pot plants perished in the blaze, fire officials and KIRO 7 TV said.

The two-alarm fire gutted Sea of Green Farms in Magnolia about 4 a.m. after an electrical wiring problem, the Seattle Fire Department said. It was controlled about 45 minutes later.

There were no reported injuries.

Firefighters, who wore standard masks to battle the blaze, were not affected by the marijuana fumes, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore told The Seattle Times.

“The building is ventilated upward, so all the smoke went up into the air,” he said.

The fire caused about $250,000 in damages to the building and equipment, not including the lost marijuana products, the fire department said.

Sea of Green Farms did not immediately return a call for comment.
 

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http://www.thestranger.com/features...-legal-marijuana-that-doesnt-allow-home-grows





Washington Is the Only State with Legal Marijuana That Doesn't Allow Home Grows





A few years ago, my friends Monica and Nate got ahold of a few marijuana cuttings, also known as "clones," and planted them in their backyards. Neither of their plants grew into the towering, gawky, bamboo-like stalks you see in stock news photos of professional marijuana grows. Monica pruned hers to grow smaller and bushier, less conspicuous, almost ornamental—the bonsai of marijuana. They were stupidly easy to grow, both said, no more difficult than tomatoes or basil. One year, the wind knocked over Monica's pot planters, breaking one and crunching lots of the stems—but they hurtled back to life.

There were only two catches. The first: Their marijuana ended up being fairly mild. As another friend with backyard-grow experience explained to me, the strong "power-weed" sold by stores and reputable dealers requires a strict regimen of light, fertilizer, water, filtration, and other pampering. It's possible to grow low-maintenance marijuana just about anywhere—but the backyard version doesn't have the same intoxicating intensity.

That was just fine for Monica, who, like me, finds most commercial-grade pot too strong for her taste. (Hers was just about perfect.) For some users, a mild, light, easy-to-grow plant that is pleasant to look at and doesn't send you around the bend is ideal—like a soothing glass of wine instead of high-octane liquor.

The second catch is trickier: Even though marijuana is now legal in Washington State, growing a few plants of your own is still a felony.

Why can't we grow our own marijuana? And by "we," I mean any Washington State resident over the age of 21 who might want to try cultivating a small marijuana patch?

For reasons medical, recreational, or horticultural, Oregon allows adults over the age of 21 to grow four plants. Alaska, Colorado, and Washington, DC, allow six, with some restrictions on how many plants can be mature and flowering at any given time. This marijuana isn't for selling. Just for tending, sharing, or admiring from a distance. And, despite what some legislators down in Olympia are saying these days, it doesn't seem to be causing anybody any serious problems.

Washington is the only legal-marijuana jurisdiction in the country that bans small-scale home cultivation for personal use—which is bizarre. We're a state full of gardeners and DIYers who are able to brew our own beer, ferment our own wine, and even grow our own tobacco if we want to (though this is a lousy climate for it).

Why not pot?

Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational market in Washington State, did not include home growing. Alison Holcomb, the ACLU attorney who largely wrote I-502, says it was written conservatively to broaden its voter appeal and to minimize any possibility of federal intervention. The polling numbers for the bill were already tight, she says, and the drafters of 502 thought adding a home-grow provision would be an unnecessary risk. She thought those kinds of issues would get ironed out in subsequent years—like this year.

Now is the time.

Washington State, like Colorado, is fine-tuning its marijuana laws right now. One of the stronger-looking bills in Olympia this legislative season is Senate Bill 5052, the controversially named "patient protection act" (some say it should be called the "get rid of medical marijuana act"), which passed the senate back in February and is now roiling in the house of representatives.

Several stories have been written about 5052 already, but to summarize: The bill, championed by Republican senator Ann Rivers, would consolidate the medical marijuana market into the hands of recreational businesses, to the anguish of some medical marijuana advocates. Rivers is getting strong support from recreational marijuana entrepreneurs and a few deep-pocketed investors at the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA).

Supporters of the bill say it's about safety, quality control, and a simplified tax structure—reining in a chaotic and less regulated medical marijuana marketplace, subjecting medical marijuana to the same testing and labeling standards as recreational marijuana, and creating a registry of pot-growing patients so the state can keep track of what's going on.

The registry issue is a hot spot of contention. It was originally mandatory in the bill's wording, but that was challenged and changed during 5052's stormy cruise through the senate. Now the registry is technically voluntary, but 5052 critics such as Democratic representative Brian Blake say that word is a smoke screen. "They're calling it a voluntary registry," he said, "but I find it so coercive that it doesn't meet my test... you don't get the same tax breaks and legal protections [from law enforcement] unless you agree to be registered."

Some opponents of 5052 say the bill is an attempt to concentrate a new and potentially enormous industry, with potentially enormous profits, into the hands of the few people who managed to get recreational licenses. As of March 15, the Washington State Liquor Control Board listed 135 active retail licenses selling to a state population of seven million. (For comparison, by the end of 2014, Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division had issued more than 322 retail licenses within a state population of only 5.4 million. Current Washington law caps the number of possible retail licenses at 334. Colorado does not have a cap.)

Representative Blake says he doesn't think recreational stores need to go after the medical market to survive. "I think there's an organized effort to consolidate," he said. "And I'm not sure that's necessary for the 502 businesses to be successful."

There's some disagreement about how deeply the Washington CannaBusiness Association was involved in writing Senator Rivers's bill. In an e-mail last week, Senator Rivers downplayed their role, telling me it was "minimal." But back in February, WACA director Vicki Christophersen told the Daily Beast that her organization worked closely with Senator Rivers, and that the senator "took a lot of our suggestions."

Legislators in Olympia, such as Democratic senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, think the connection is unambiguous. "The CannaBusiness Association helped write Senator Rivers's bill and has really been pushing it and has been comprised of wealthy individuals," she said. Republican representative Cary Condotta was more blunt: "Senator Rivers is controlling this issue and is working directly for the industry... they have a lot of lobbyists working on it. Some say up to 10 or 12, and I've seen six. Most major bills, you get a couple-three."

Either way, WACA clearly wants recreational businesses to have a lock on Washington's marijuana. WACA's enrollment form requires potential members to sign a declaration of principles. Principle number one: "All cannabis (medical and recreational) must be produced, processed, and sold through the i502 system... No non-i502 regulated entities or individuals should be allowed to produce, process, or sell cannabis."

Which brings us back to those small-scale home grows.

During a floor debate on February 13, as 5052 was pushing its way out of the senate and toward the house, Senator Kohl-Welles proposed a simple amendment: People over 21 in Washington—just like the people in Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, and DC—should be allowed to grow a few plants of their own. Six, to be exact.

Senator Rivers quickly batted that amendment aside, saying: "My colleagues in Colorado, when asked about their cannabis system, their marijuana system, what one thing they would change—universally they say, 'Do not. Allow. Home grows.' It is a genie you cannot get back in the bottle. It is difficult to regulate. They say over and over, 'Don't go there, don't go there, we wish we hadn't.'"

Moments after Senator Rivers said that, the amendment to allow home grows was struck down. The bill is now in the house, where representatives have another chance to add a home-grow amendment. Representative Cary Condotta, legislators say, is likely to introduce some amendments soon. (If you care about this issue, write to him right now at [email protected]. And write to everyone else at the bottom of this article, too.)

Curious about this scourge of home grows that Senator Rivers says Colorado's leaders "universally" regret, I called and e-mailed Colorado officials and reporters. I couldn't find a single person who was concerned about them. Colorado senator Kevin Lundgren agrees, saying he hasn't heard any concern about them among his colleagues.

"Honestly, I have not heard anything about home grows," said Daria Serna of Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division. They occasionally come up in discussions about rental properties, she said, but she thinks that's the landlords' problem for not prohibiting home grows in their contracts. Other than that, she said, "I just have not seen anything about it."

Ricardo Baca, the Denver Post's lead reporter on legalization in Colorado, said the same thing. "The home grow hasn't been a major issue," he said by e-mail. "It's not something that has been revisited all that vocally in city council or the state legislature, whereas other issues have been addressed and evaluated as such." The current controversy in Denver is whether to limit unlicensed grows to a whopping 36 plants. The six-plant grows? Not a problem, he says.

Alison Holcomb likewise says she hasn't seen any data from Colorado about small-scale home cultivation being a problem.

Even the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, which might feel like home grows threaten its market share, wrote in an e-mail: "Representing leaders of the licensed, regulated industry, the Chamber can confidently say that home grows for personal use have never been a significant 'issue' here in Colorado."

I asked Senator Rivers to name any of her Colorado "colleagues" who warned her against a six-plant provision. Her response: "Keep digging." I'll take that as a no. (To be fair, she also referred to a Brookings Institution analysis of the Colorado law, which mentions some "worry" about "homegrowers' potential to skirt the law"—though the report presented no evidence of any problems.)

For its part, the Washington CannaBusiness Association neither supports nor rejects home grows. "You raise a great question," WACA director Christophersen said by e-mail last week when asked for the organization's position. She said their first priority is 5052 and "ensuring that we have a safe, quality-controlled, and regulated marketplace for cannabis... we will use that policy lens in any future work we engage in regarding small-scale home cultivation."

Neither King Country prosecutor Dan Satterberg nor King County sheriff John Urquhart said they'd be particularly worried about small-scale home grows. Both are more concerned with large-scale collective gardens. If we reform those correctly, Satterberg said, "with the right price points, home grows will be like homemade beer—something for the enthusiasts but not competition for the licensed, taxed, and regulated retail alcohol system."

So why not add a home-grow amendment to 5052 in the house? Not only is there no evidence that it would create problems, Holcomb said, "adding a home-grow amendment could solve a lot of problems."

Take the controversial medical marijuana registry, for instance. If everybody—medical, recreational, and horticultural—were allowed to grow up to six plants, small-scale medical growers wouldn't have to worry about being part of a registry. A six-plant limit is also a bright line for law enforcement, and a lot easier to parse than the technical murk of medical marijuana qualifications. (It wouldn't solve the issue for medical growers who want or need more than six plants, but it could take some of the pressure off the debate.)

Then, of course, there are the children. Always the children. Never mind that the youth of America haven't had much trouble scoring any pot (or booze or tobacco or anything else) for the past half century—just about everyone in Olympia says their colleagues are concerned about "youth access" and whether kids might stumble across a home grow.

Which returns us to Monica and her delicate, user-friendly garden weed. The pot that kids have access to today—like the pot I had access to as a kid—is the "power weed" variety, bred to be as potent as possible. That's how smuggling works. One has to develop potent drugs, stuffing a bigger high into a smaller volume, maximizing profit per ounce while minimizing the risk of getting caught.

Extraordinarily potent drugs cultivate extraordinarily potent tastes. As drug prohibition rolls back, it's quite possible that the drugs themselves will become milder. Allowing home growers—like home brewers—to legally and comfortably produce low-potency intoxicants might cultivate a generation with milder tastes.

If young people are going to have access to marijuana—and they already do—which kind would you prefer they have access to? The powerful stuff sold on the black market and in pot shops? Or Monica's mild home-grown?

I know what I'd choose. recommended

A bill that could fold the medical marijuana industry into the recreational market, Senate Bill 5052, has passed the state senate and is now in the house. If you’re in favor of the house adding an amendment to 5052 that would allow for small-scale home grows—an amendment that was killed in the senate—now is the time to contact your representatives. The following representatives have indicated support for home growing in the past:

Brian Blake (D): [email protected]

Cary Condotta (R): [email protected]

Reuven Carlyle (D): [email protected]

Luis Moscoso (D): [email protected]

Sherry Appleton (D): [email protected]

Dean Takko (D): [email protected]

Hans Dunshee (D): [email protected]

Maureen Walsh (R): [email protected]

Chris Reykdal (D): [email protected]

The following senators sponsored 5052 and appear to oppose home grows. (Senator Rivers definitely opposes them.) If the bill passes the house with a home-grow amendment, the senate will have to approve it, so write to them and let them know what you think:

Ann Rivers (R): [email protected]

Brian Hatfield (D): [email protected]

Steve Conway (D): [email protected]

You can always find your legislators at: app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder.
 

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http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2015/04/07/leading-medical-marijuana-lab-raided-in-pasadena/





Leading medical marijuana lab raided in Pasadena





Pasadena police raided a prominent medical marijuana lab in Southern California, The Werc Shop, Monday evening.

According to reports, Pasadena Police raided The Werc Shop in Pasadena at 10 p.m., Monday night, detaining 28 people and ultimately arresting 2 — Jeffrey Raber, 39, of Whittier and Mark Piesner, 43, of Calabasas on suspicion in manufacturing a controlled substance.

The Werc Shop is a leading cannabis analysis laboratory in Southern California, and performs potency and pathogen testing on southland medical cannabis for dispensaries, collectives and patients.

Raber has a Ph.D. in chemistry from USC and The Werc Shop was founded in 2010 “despite the inherent risk personally and professionally,” Raber states online. “Tremendous community support quickly resulted in The Werc Shop being recognized as a leading cannabis laboratory.”

According to reports, an anonymous tip about cannabis odor led local police to two Werc Shop sites in Pasadena. Police said they seized “200 pint-sized bottles” of hash oil, 500 pounds of marijuana and found a “manufacturing factory for hash oil or honey oil.”

“Hash oil” is one name for a variety of extracts of cannabis made using a chemical solvent, most often butane or carbon dioxide. None of the police photos corroborate charges of an extraction lab. The photos are consistent with an analytical laboratory. Raber did not answer calls for comment Tuesday and has not released a statement.

The legality of California’s analytical cannabis labs — which test medical marijuana for potency and pathogens — is subject to dispute. They are not specifically legalized under Proposition 215 or SB 420, and operators could be subjected to federal or state charges for handling marijuana, depending on the jurisdiction. But several California cities mandate cannabis be tested at such labs before being sold to patients.

The legality of extraction labs hinges on a California Appellate Court ruling which criminalizes cannabis extraction using butane, but allows for extraction using inflammable solvents like water.
 

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http://www.azcentral.com/story/news...cal-marijuana-arizona-supreme-court/25416337/





Arizona Supreme Court allows medical marijuana on probation





The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday issued two rulings barring courts and prosecutors from denying marijuana use as a term of probation if the convicted felons have valid medical-marijuana cards.

In one case, a man convicted of possessing marijuana for sale in Cochise County was forbidden from using marijuana by a probation officer after he was released from prison.

In the second, a woman pleading guilty to DUI in Yavapai County refused to accept abstention from marijuana as a term of probation, prompting the prosecution to withdraw the plea agreement. Both had valid medical-marijuana cards.

The Supreme Court ruled that both had the right to use marijuana for their medical conditions and that prosecutors and courts could not block that right as a term of probation.

"The Supreme Court is recognizing what the people decided when they passed the initiative: You can use your medicine," said David Euchner, an assistant Pima County public defender.

Euchner argued as a friend of the court in both cases in his role as a member of the executive committee for Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

The court ruled, however, that the Yavapai County Attorney's Office had the right to withdraw from the offered plea agreement because it had not yet been accepted by a judge.

In 2010, Keenan Reed-Kaliher pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for sale in Cochise County and was sent to prison for a year and a half.

The Medical Marijuana Act was passed later that year and went into effect in 2011, so it did not affect Reed-Kaliher's plea agreement.

The terms of his probation required that he "obey all laws," according to the Supreme Court decision.

When he was released on probation, Reed-Kaliher's probation officer added the term that he not possess or use marijuana. Reed-Kaliher, who had a valid medical-marijuana card, appealed.

A Cochise County Superior Court judge did not agree with his argument, but the Arizona Court of Appeals did.

Tuesday's decision affirmed the Court of Appeals ruling.

"f the state extends a plea offer that includes probation, it cannot condition the plea on acceptance of a probationary term that would prohibit a qualified patient from using medical marijuana ..." the ruling said.

Prosecutors are not pleased with the ruling.

"It's another example of the problems with initiative drafting and unintended consequences," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in an e-mail to The Arizona Republic. "There was no discussion at the time of the election regarding the impact to case resolutions and the ability for parties to negotiate plea agreements."

Montgomery is a staunch opponent of marijuana use. On March 23, he raised eyebrows during a debate in Tempe over the use of recreational marijuana when he called a veteran who admitted to using the drug an "enemy."

But the defense attorney he faced off against, Marc Victor, said Tuesday's court ruling was just, "because the initiative specifically said your right to use medical marijuana can't be taken away."

Still, Victor found it "bizarre," noting Reed-Kaliher's conviction and "at the same time we're giving you the right to smoke marijuana while you're rehabilitating."

The second case Tuesday covered a slightly different probation angle.

Jennifer Lee Ferrell was arrested in 2012 and charged with DUI.

Pursuant to Yavapai County Attorney's Office policy, Ferrell's plea agreement required her to avoid marijuana as a condition of probation.

The high court said no.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk is also firmly against marijuana use.

"I implemented the 'no marijuana condition' after the probation department noted a significant increase in the number of probationers obtaining a medical marijuana card to use marijuana while on felony probation," Polk said in an e-mail to The Republic. "My goal — and the goal of the system — is to set convicted felons up to succeed, to find employment and to turn their lives around. Marijuana is not part of that equation."

Polk said she is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Reed-Kaliher case also addressed whether federal drug laws pre-empted state law and would undo the two court decisions.

The Arizona Supreme Court said no.

"The matter of pre-emption has to be addressed sooner or later," Montgomery said.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.rollingstone.com/politic...edical-marijuana-decriminalized-weed-20150406





New Poll: Florida Voters Want Medical Marijuana, Decriminalized Weed





Although Florida citizens narrowly voted against legalizing medical marijuana this past Election Day, a new poll of Sunshine State voters revealed that Floridians are in favor of both legalizing marijuana for medical use and decriminalizing weed for personal use. The new study also shows that the only reason that voters rejected the pro-pot Amendment 2 in November is because the prospective law's wording "troubled many voters," ABC Action News in Tampa Bay reports.

In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, a resounding 84 percent of Florida voters said they would vote in favor of a bill to legalize medical marijuana. However, when Amendment 2 was brought to voters, only 58 percent of citizens voted in favor of the bill, just 2 percent shy of the 60 percent needed to enact the law. According to Quinnipiac, it's likely Amendment 2's complex wording likely conspired against itself, as only 14 percent of Floridians polled said they would vote against a legalized medical marijuana bill.

States like Alaska, Washington, Colorado and, starting in July, Oregon have all embraced decriminalized weed, and if the Quinnipiac poll captures the tenor of Florida voters, it's not a matter of "if" but "when" the Sunshine State follows suit. In the new poll, 55 percent said they would be in favor of decriminalized weed laws similar to that of Oregon and Alaska - meaning no dispensaries but legalized possession and personal cultivation - while 42 percent would be opposed to such a law.

Surprisingly, of those 55 percent, a majority of that number admits they still wouldn't use marijuana. Only 17 percent of those polled said they would "definitely" or "probably" take advantage of Florida's lax marijuana laws, while 81 percent admitted they still wouldn't get high even if they were allowed to.

"These results show that marijuana legalization is a mainstream issue that ambitious politicians should try to latch onto instead of run away from," Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority, told ABC Tampa. "If the next president isn't willing to personally support ending prohibition as the best policy approach, he or she at least needs to push for changing federal laws so that seriously ill people can use medical marijuana without fear of being harassed by the DEA."

A bill to approve medical marijuana will be back on the Florida ballot for Election Day 2016.
 

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http://www.thecannabist.co/2015/04/06/couriers-security-marijuana-businesses/32680/





Discreet Colorado couriers keep cannabis cargo on move





At a farm in the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Corey Young tucks his client’s marijuana into a shoe box-sized container in an unmarked white van and heads out on the road.

“We don’t want to be going through a small town and have someone see bins in the back,” said Young, a founder of courier service CannaRabbit. “We do not want to stick out at all.”

Young wants to stay hidden not because pot is against the law. Colorado began legal sales of recreational marijuana last year. The secrecy is deigned to ensure the safety of drivers shuttling cargo that retails for as much as $220 an ounce.

CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service and FedEx steer clear on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states.

“You don’t really see these kind of new industries popping up that often,” said Povilas Grincevicius, a spokesman for Denver-based Absolute Security & Personal Protection, another courier service for the state’s marijuana businesses. “This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”

Couriers do more than carry pot for the state’s network of more than 800 growers, manufacturers, dispensers and laboratories. The industry remains mostly cash only as federally chartered banks have been hesitant to extend loans for trade that U.S. authorities may see as against the law.

That’s why logo-free vehicles like CannaRabbit’s van are an asset. Young, 42, said he had worked on a pot farm named Maggie’s Farm, after Bob Dylan’s 1965 song, just south of Cañon City. Maggie’s Farm was delivering its own products to stores when “the labs started using us to go pick up their samples,” he said. “They trusted us to keep things untainted.”

As demand grew, Young said he started CannaRabbit with a partner and then joined forces with Security Grade Protective Services Inc. in 2014. The company’s 20 employees now serve 60 clients a week.

Colorado is at the forefront of setting transport rules, permitting third-party couriers with proper documentation. Other states that have legalized pot have regulatory hurdles.

Oregon, where voters approved legalization in November, plans to name a rules advisory committee in coming weeks to draft regulations, state Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Karynn Fish wrote in an email. The group will meet through October and the commission will begin accepting license applications for retail stores by January 2016.

In Washington, where legal sales began in July, outside carriers for marijuana businesses aren’t allowed, according to Brian Smith, communications director of the state Liquor Control Board.

Marijuana businesses are concerned that transporting pot on Washington’s rural roads without secured transport poses safety risks, state Sen. Brian Hatfield said. He said a bill he co-sponsored to allow the outside delivery companies stalled.

Alaska also approved legalized pot in November, creating more potential opportunities for start-up courier services. District of Columbia voters agreed to allow residents to grow their own pot, though selling it would still be illegal.

The pot industry has been a boon for Colorado, which expects to receive $87.3 million in tax revenue from it next fiscal year. The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division has issued about 340 licenses to recreational pot stores since the 2012 legalization vote, according to its website.

Employment in the growth, production and sales of the product grew 14 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from the end of 2013, Alexandra Hall, the chief economist for Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment, said in an email on March 9. That doesn’t include the impact from indirect jobs serving the industry, such as the couriers, she said.

The business side of recreational marijuana: Get an inside look at one of Colorado’s biggest pot retailers, Medicine Man — the ambitions of the family behind it and the evolution of their business amid changing state regulations

Among those indirect beneficiaries are former Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Sullivan and ex-infantryman Ted Daniels, who started Blue Line Protection Group Inc., a Denver-based company that provides armored car services and security guards to the industry. Two other ex-deputies were their first employees, according to company spokesman Michael Jerome.

New Blue Line employees undergo 40 hours of training from Grant Whitus, a former policeman, Jerome said. The company has grown to 80 employees since starting in late 2013.

Jerome, himself an ex-Jefferson County deputy, voted against pot legalization in 2012, although with all the cash and high-value weed traveling across the state raising safety risks, he decided to get involved.

“The state voted for it so now we have to make it work,” Jerome said.

Making it work will require more of the marijuana businesses to turn to the professional couriers and give up transporting their cash and high-value product by themselves, said Michael Julian, chief executive officer of MPS International. MPS is a provider in Denver of guards and armored-car services to the industry.

“What’s stupid is somebody with no security training, no driving training, no surveillance training, in a 1999 Honda Accord traveling across the city with $200,000 in cash,” he said. “That’s foolish.”
 

WeedHopper

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Cant wait till one day when you post,,,,,,TEXAS GOES LEGAL,,,,,man that would be awesome.
 
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