MJ News for 05/14/2014

7greeneyes

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hMPp://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/05/13/marijuana-burgers-iowa-couple/9059267/




Couple may have found marijuana in McDonald's burgers


Police are investigating a report of two people finding what may have been marijuana in their McDonald's cheeseburgers in Iowa last month.

An engaged couple told police they found the substance between the patties in their two double cheeseburgers they bought at a McDonald's in Ottumwa, Iowa, on April 26.

The two bought the cheeseburgers at the restaurant's drive-thru about 8:15 p.m. After taking at least one bite each, the two noticed the plant material, which smelled and looked like marijuana, Ottumwa Police Lt. Jason Bell said.

The couple went back to the restaurant and told management of their suspicions about the substance.

The two then contacted the Ottumwa Police Department. Police began an investigation to try to determine if the substance was marijuana.

Bell couldn't say how much of the substance was on the burgers, but said it "appears to be consistent with marijuana." Police will send the substance to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to test if it is marijuana, Bell said.

Police are also trying to determine how the substance got between the patties.

No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon. The McDonald's restaurant remains open, Bell said.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, a manager at the McDonald's said the restaurant has no comment on the case and then hung up.
 

7greeneyes

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hMPp://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10927282/renegotiation-nfl-drug-policy-reduce-marijuana-punishments




New (NFL) policy will change pot discipline


It would be too late to help Josh Gordon, Will Hill or anyone else in danger of a lengthy suspension for violations of current rules. But when and if the NFL's new drug policy is finalized and announced, it will include changes specific to marijuana and other drugs of abuse.

A source told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the renegotiation of the drug policy, which has been going on since 2011 and includes testing for human growth hormone, also will significantly increase the threshold for a positive marijuana test and reduce the punishments for violations involving that drug.

The source said the NFL's policy on marijuana is outdated, pointing out that the World Anti-Doping Agency has a higher threshold for a positive test than the NFL currently does.

The NFL Players Association has expressed to the league an interest in studying the medical research that has led to the legalization of marijuana in many states for medicinal use, but it believes changes are needed in the meantime regardless.

What is holding up the implementation and announcement of changes to the league's drug policy is a continued standoff over arbitration of discipline. In cases of nonanalytical positives (i.e., an Alex Rodriguez-type case in which a player is found to be in violation of the drug policy by some method other than a failed test) or in cases of violations of law (i.e., a player getting caught trying to smuggle prescription drugs across the Canadian border), the NFLPA has asked that discipline appeals be heard by an independent arbitrator.

The NFL has continued to insist that the commissioner have final say over discipline matters.

It's the same hang-up that was addressed last week by union president Eric Winston, who said of commissioner Roger Goodell on the issue of HGH testing, "He wants to hold all the cards and he wants to be the judge, jury and executioner, and we're not going to go for an un-American system like that."

In response to the union's claims, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello emailed the following to ESPN last week: "It's kind of funny because since 2011 the union has come up with one excuse after another to avoid implementing an agreement to test for HGH. First, it was the testing method; then it was the population study; now it's commissioner authority. Our commitment to testing is clear. The same cannot be said of the union."

The dispute over arbitration, it turns out, is holding up more than just HGH testing. There are widespread changes to the NFL's drug policy that these two sides have negotiated and are waiting to implement once they can reach agreement on the administration of discipline
 

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hMPp://tdn.com/news/local/longview-marijuana-lottery-winners-prepare-businesses-for-opening/article_d87764f8-d966-11e3-a4e5-0019bb2963f4.html




(WA) Longview marijuana lottery winners prepare businesses for opening


Todd Bratton may as well have been the No. 1 NFL Draft pick this weekend.

He received the top seeding for something a little more local, though: a retail marijuana store in Longview. And now he’s ready to get to work.

“There’s a whole list of things I need to get organized in the next week,” like a business license, signing a lease and figuring out insurance, he said with excitement in his eyes. “It’s up to me now to get the job done.”

The state Liquor Control Board expects to start issuing licenses no later than July 1. In the interim, retail stores are turning their focus to every other aspect of starting a business.

Longview’s lottery results were delayed a week by a court hearing but finally released Thursday, to the celebration of the three winners and chagrin of the seven who didn’t make the cut.

The marijuana retail lottery was held by the state in April for areas where there were more applicants than licenses allowed by the state.

Longview City Council set zoning regulations for retail marijuana operations within the city limits in February, which puts it ahead of Cowlitz County and Woodland in terms of progress. It appears unlikely, at least for the time being, that a license will be granted to a retailer in Kelso.

That means Longview’s top three will probably be the first legal cannabis businesses in the county, and it could all start with Todd Bratton’s Cannabis Market (a working title, he said).

Bratton defies the pot-selling stereotype at every turn. The 38-year-old Kelso High School graduate holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public policy from Washington State University/Vancouver; he’s a father of three and husband to his business partner, Rachel; and he says he runs 25 to 30 miles a week.

“We’re not drug dealers; I haven’t wanted to be in this business unless it was legitimate,” he said.

The neighbors of his shop at 1953 Seventh Ave., the Department of Corrections office, can probably help with that.

“I appreciate (having) those folks around,” Bratton said. “We’re going to be a friendly neighbor to everyone.”

In November 2012, 53.7 percent of Cowlitz County voted against Initiative 502 legalizing recreational marijuana, with 46.3 percent in favor. And while that may not be an accurate measure of those for or against retail marijuana outlets today, it shows the split among those for and against the more general concept.

Pleas against pot from the community made the City Council initially vote down proposed zoning regulations in February, which would have left zoning more open-ended.

Bratton is a cannabis advocate, but he emphasized the need to protect children and to ensure at all costs his product doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

“I have young kids, and there is no cannabis around kids, period,” he said. Bratton said he wants to work with all of those opposed and try to address their concerns, and he says that probably doesn’t mean changing their minds about marijuana.

For others, he said first-time users may need some guidance.

“I want to educate the community about it too,” Bratton said. “Someone who doesn’t smoke a cigarette and smokes (marijuana), they’re likely going to get sick and throw up. If you’re going to use cannabis you need to understand what you’re doing — it’s a potent drug, take it easy.”

Legalization was the first step, and now Bratton and others are moving on to legitimization for what he sees as a lucrative business that will support his family.

“I’m certainly not going to be some vigilante businessman — I want to take it really slow. And inventory is going to be scarce to begin with,” Bratton said. “It’s awesome to be a part of something new like this.”
 

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hMPp://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/colorado-symphony-tries-to-address-denvers-marijuana-concerns-over-classically-cannabis-concerts05132014




Colorado Symphony tries to address Denver's marijuana concerns over 'Classically Cannabis' concerts


The Colorado Symphony says a series of marijuana-themed fundraising concerts will be invitation only in an attempt to address concerns that audiences were going to break the law by smoking weed in public.

In a statement Tuesday, the symphony also said it was removing information about the three events scheduled to start later this month from its website and refunding tickets purchased already. The "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series" events at Denver's Space Gallery will now be open to a list of VIP guests by invitation.

After the symphony announced the concerts in April, the Denver city attorney warned the organization in a letter that they could violate laws against public marijuana consumption.

"We provide you with this letter to dissuade you from hosting the event; however, if you go forward, we will exercise any and all options available to the City of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners, event organizers responsible for any violations of law. We are also ready to hold individual attendees responsible for any violations of City ordinances or state law prohibiting public consumption of marijuana," states the letter signed by Stacie Louks, director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use after state voters passed a ballot measure, Amendment 64, in 2012. Under the law, people 21 and older can use the drug in private, possess up to 1 ounce of pot and grow up to six marijuana plants.

The city's letter, however, reminds Colorado Symphony CEO/Co-Chair Jerome H. Kern that Amendment 64's "immunity from prosecution under state and local laws granted for adult possession and consumption does not extend to smoking 'openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.'"

The symphony said its new rules in the wake of the warning were worked out after consultation with the city attorney.

The city's legal warnings have marijuana advocates fuming.

"Don't they have anything better to do?" asked Rob Corry, an attorney who represents the marijuana industry. He said the city is going out of its way to put a kibosh on the cannabis centered event.

"You still have to buy a ticket. It is still a private event. And every adult that comes into the event consents to the purpose of that event," Corry said.
 

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hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-/florida-medical-marijuana_b_5313512.html




Florida Wants Not Only Medical Marijuana but Legal Cannabis Too


With medical marijuana appearing on the Florida ballot in November, the state's voters are weighing in once again on whether they would approve legalized cannabis.

Florida's medical marijuana measure, if approved, could make it the first southern state in America to go green, so to speak.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows that 88 percent of registered voters in the Sunshine State would approve marijuana for medical use. Ten percent opposed the idea.

All groups, even those 65 and older, supported medical marijuana at a rate of more than 80 percent, Quinnipiac says.

Not only that, but voters would allow small amounts of recreational marijuana for personal use at a rate of 53 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed, according to the university.

No surprise here: People aged 18 to 29 support full-on recreational legalization at the highest rate found by Quinnipiac, 72 percent in favor to 24 percent opposed.

Republicans opposed recreational legalization 64 percent against to 33 percent in favor.

Nonetheless, Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, says:

If Vegas were giving odds on medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida, the bookies would be betting heavily. With almost nine in 10 voters favoring legalization for medical purposes, and bills allowing such use advancing in the State Legislature, the odds seem pretty good Florida may join the states which already have done so.

Pollsters interviewed 1,413 registered voters in Florida. Quinnipiac says the results have an error rate of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
 

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hMPp://bernews.com/2014/05/estimated-2-6m-sent-overseas-for-cannabis/




(Bermuda) Estimated $2.6M Sent Overseas For Cannabis


Last year Bermuda sent an estimated $2.6 million abroad to pay for cannabis, according to the report from the Cannabis Reform Collaborative [CRC] which was tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday.

The report recommended that Government should “decriminalize personal possession and personal cultivation immediately,” and “develop a phased approach to cannabis reform…”

The 137-report covers a wide range of topics relating to the possible ramifications of decriminalizing cannabis, and speaking on the economic impact, the report said the illegal status of cannabis deprives the government of tax revenues as well as causes Government to spend millions on supply reduction efforts.

The report said there is an estimated revenue of $6 million annually with cannabis, and if it was legalized, a 15% sales tax on the estimated market would translate to an annual income of $932,696.

The report said, “The majority of all cannabis consumed in Bermuda is imported. This creates a large outflow of funds from Bermuda to supplier countries as payment for the drugs.

“As a result, cannabis like many imported goods, offers a diminished benefit to the local economy and by extension funds available to stimulate economic activity.

“In 2013 based on the average wholesale price per pound from Canada, United Kingdom and US, Bermuda sent an estimated $2.6 million abroad to pay for cannabis.

“Unlike some other important goods, cost effective local production of cannabis appears to be viable. At the current stated police prices of $50 per gram or $600 per ounce there is significant potential to grow cannabis locally at a competitive price.

“This would drive down and possibly eliminate competition from importation, without compromising supply and quality, creating a self-sustaining closed loop and entirely local market, where all related funds remain on island.

“The impact of cannabis prohibition on government finances is most obvious in supply reduction efforts. With cannabis offences representing 68.8% of all offences in 2012 and a total budget of $7.4 million allocated to supply reduction, approximately $5.1 million could be applicable to reducing cannabis supply. The supply reduction costs are split between the police service and an inter-agency border control unit.

“There were 1,205 persons tried for cannabis related offences from 2006 – 2011; on average 200 per year. This contributed to total cannabis law enforcement cost related to the courts and prosecutors office.

“Based on an estimate to the order of $10,000 per trial total and 1205 trials, costs over this time period were roughly $2 million annually. More money is spent incarcerating people convicted of cannabis offences.

“Furthermore, the illegal status of cannabis deprives the government of the tax revenues it would have received if cannabis were legal. If legalized cannabis could be could be charged a sin tax, like tobacco and alcohol. There is also the lost revenue for licensing, permits, payroll tax and any other taxes applicable to the trade.

“If there were a 15% sales tax on the $6.2 million market that would translate to income of $932,696. The current prohibition of cannabis leave the government to spend money enforcing the laws while it is deprived of the possible income had the cannabis trade been legal.

“The illegal status of cannabis creates a black market economy with upwards of 3,000 users and roughly estimated revenue of $6 million annually.”
 

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hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/13/dea-seizes-kentuckys-hemp_n_5318098.html




DEA Seizes Kentucky's Hemp Seeds Despite Congressional Legalization


The Drug Enforcement Administration has seized a batch of seeds that were intended to be part of the launch of Kentucky's legal hemp industry following congressional legalization of the crop for research purposes.

The DEA has offered a wide variety of explanations to Kentucky officials perplexed at the seizure. "They're interpreting the law a hundred different ways," Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R) told HuffPost. "The only way they're not interpreting it is the way it actually reads."

Comer said that he met with Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell (R) and Rand Paul (R) this past weekend and relayed to them the DEA's claim that it was simply following the intent of the recently passed farm bill, which includes a passage championed by McConnell that allows colleges and state departments of agriculture to cultivate hemp for research purposes.

"They were just appalled, because Senator McConnell was the author of the language," Comer said. "He knows exactly what the congressional intent of the law was."

Federal customs officials stopped a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds from Italy intended for use in Kentucky’s hemp growing pilot program, which the state's Department of Agriculture plans to launch this Friday.

Comer and organizers of the ceremonial planting said the event will go forward on Friday in spite of the DEA's seizure.

"They didn't realize, I don't guess, that we have some actual seed in hand," Comer said of the DEA, adding that the agency had hinted there could be arrests at the event. "I think they're running up the chain what they're gonna do."

"We're basically expecting the DEA may show up on Friday. If that does happen, our plan is to continue with the planting," said Lauren Stansbury, a spokesperson for Vote Hemp, which is partnering on the event.

The veterans' group Growing Warriors will also be at the event, said Stansbury. The program helps veterans to re-enter civilian society by teaching them agricultural skills.

"If they want to arrest a bunch of war veterans for planting hemp, that's their decision," she said. The hemp fiber, she added, will be processed and made into American flags.

Comer said that between Tuesday morning and mid-afternoon, he had four conference calls with the DEA. One official, he said, suggested the DEA would need to do a criminal background search on the University of Kentucky, one of the schools participating in the pilot program, before it could approve the use of the seeds.

Comer has vowed to sue the DEA if the seeds are not released.

"DEA is actively working with state officials to resolve outstanding issues related to importation of hemp seeds," a Department of Justice official told The Huffington Post.

The official said that the farm bill doesn't explicitly authorize the importation of hemp seeds -- rather, it discusses their growing and cultivation. Given that it is illegal to import hemp seeds, the DOJ official did not offer a recommendation on where or how states participating in the hemp program could obtain seeds.

David Barhorst, a hemp processor in Kentucky, said the DEA's move may end up backfiring.

"The DEA is willfully violating federal law and intentionally impeding the research of Kentucky's universities and Department of Agriculture," he said. "If that isn't a cry out loud for a leadership change at the DEA, I don't know what is."

The DEA's insertion of itself into the hemp program has been cause for concern among university officials who were planning to host the ceremony, Comer said. "Kentucky State [University] is supposed to be there but I'll be honest, they're spooked," Comer said. KSU and Murray State University, he said, have both gotten hemp seeds from California despite the DEA's efforts to intercept all incoming seeds.

The farm bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in February, legalized industrial hemp production in states that permit it. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed a state hemp bill into law back in 2013.

Currently, 12 states have legalized industrial hemp production and about two dozen others have introduced legislation that, if passed, would authorize research, set up a regulatory framework or legalize the growing of industrial hemp.

Hemp is the same species as marijuana -- Cannabis sativa -- but they are cultivated differently in order to enhance or diminish their THC properties, depending on the crop. Hemp contains little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana associated with the "high" sensation.

Hemp, sometimes called marijuana's "sober cousin," has a long history in America, one that has encompassed a wide range of household products, including paper, cosmetics and textiles. In the 1700s, American colonial farmers were required by law to grow the plant, and it was used for hundreds of years in the U.S. to make rope, lamp oil and much more.

American industrial hemp production peaked in 1943, with more than 150 million pounds from 146,200 harvested acres. Although the crop hadn't yet been officially banned, production dropped to zero in the late 1950s as a result of "anti-drug sentiment and competition from synthetic fibers," according to the Associated Press.

DEA chief Michele Leonhart is known to be a foe of hemp. She previously told a group of sheriffs she was upset by a flag made of industrial hemp that flew over the U.S. Capitol on July 4, 2013, at the behest of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts, told the Boston Herald in January that Leonhart "said her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA was when she learned they'd flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4. The sheriffs were all shocked. This is the first time in 28 years I've ever heard anyone in her position be this candid.”

"This shows how shockingly out of touch Michele Leonhart is," Polis told HuffPost at the time. "You would think that one of her lowest points would have been when she completely embarrassed herself by failing to state the obvious scientific fact that marijuana is less harmful and addictive than heroin."

Kentucky's crop wouldn't be the first known hemp crop grown on U.S. soil since the federal hemp production ban. In 2013, Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvested the first hemp crop grown on American soil in nearly 60 years after the state voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana and laid the groundwork for industrial hemp production in the state.

The DEA did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

UPDATE: Late Tuesday night, the DEA agreed to issue a permit, and release the 250 pounds of Italian hemp seeds being held by the U.S. Customs Service, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
"It looks like we've won this round," Comer said in a statement. "The DEA completely reversed course from this morning. I think we just needed to get their attention."
 

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