MJ News for 10/01/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl--marijuana-ad-war-launched-20140930-story.html




Ad war launched on medical marijuana in Florida




TV viewers in Florida this week are seeing the first attack in an ad war over medical marijuana, as polls point to a close contest on a constitutional amendment to legalize the illicit weed.

Opponents launched a $1.5-million round of statewide ads that flash words from the amendment across the screen while claiming it gives legal cover to drug dealing.

"Amendment 2 isn't what it seems," an ominous voice tells viewers. "Its caregiver provision gives legal protection to marijuana dealers. Even felons and drug dealers could be caregivers.

"They don't call it the Drug Dealer Protection Act, but they should."

It's just the start of a battle over the airwaves on Amendment 2, a proposal to legalize marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating illnesses. Twenty-three states have adopted similar measures, but the Florida campaign has drawn national attention because it would be the first southern state to legalize medical marijuana.

Proponents plan to fire back this month with TV ads of their own. A version already running online depicts doctors tending to vulnerable patients.

"Voting yes on 2 will allow doctors to recommend the medicine they feel would ease the pain and suffering of thousands of sick Floridians," a soothing voice tells viewers. "Vote yes on 2 and trust our doctors to decide what's best."

Both sides of the intense debate are pouring millions of dollars into the campaign.

Drug Free Florida, which sponsored this week's TV ads, has raised $3.22 million, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Some $2.5 million came from Sheldon Adelson, a philanthropist and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a generous contributor to Republican candidates.

United for Care has raised $6.15 million to promote the amendment.

John Morgan, an Orlando lawyer and Democratic super-donor, contributed $3.78 million to the cause. Morgan and Barbara Stiefel, a Coral Gables philanthropist, each pledged this week to match any other donations — a 2 to 1 match.

"I have put millions in to make this happen," Morgan told prospective donors, "but we need millions more."

Early polls indicated that as much as 88 percent of voters supported the idea of providing marijuana for medical purposes. But opponents, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, attacked Amendment 2, saying its loose wording created loopholes that would open the way to "pot docs" recommending marijuana for recreational use.

Recent polls indicate support is slipping. A SurveyUSA poll this month, for example, found that 53 percent of Florida voters supported the amendment, 32 percent opposed it and 15 percent were uncertain.

Promoters say their polling shows that public support is holding steady at 69 percent. The amendment requires 60 percent "yes" votes to be approved.

"I live in reality, and it will obviously tighten up between now and Election Day," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care.

He and Morgan plan to lead a campaign bus tour across the state next week, with stops in Orlando and Tampa on Monday and Tuesday and South Florida on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Orlando stops will include "Get out the Vote" rallies in the African-American community and at the University of Central Florida. The South Florida stops include rallies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and a community center in Delray Beach, plus a town-hall-style meeting in Miami Gardens.

Opponents who banded together in a "Don't Let Florida Go to Pot" coalition are sounding warnings about the amendment at public forums across the state and through Internet videos.

"We're not just talking about joints or pipes or brownies," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger says in one video segment. "Other states are seeing a dramatic increase in edible products — THC-infused products — that are clearly attractive to children. We're talking about lollipops, candy bars, 'Pot Tarts,' `Krondike Bars …'"

This week's ads say the amendment would allow "caretakers" to dispense illegal drugs without first submitting to a criminal background check.

Bob Jordan of Manatee County immediately took offense. The long-time advocate for medical marijuana — caregiver for his wife, Cathy Jordan, who has ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease" — told reporters:

"Of all the people they could have picked on, why do they pick on the caregivers? I took it as a personal insult. To equate me to a drug dealer, when I love my wife and I'm keeping her alive, it's an insult."

"This is about the patient," he and other amendment promoters say.

Both sides expect to keep up the ad war until Election Day, Nov. 4.
 

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http://www.clarionledger.com/story/...lot-initative-legalize-marijuana-ms/16478031/




Group seeks ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in MS




A group has filed a petition seeking a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Mississippi.

The group, Mississippi for Cannabis, is hoping to place an initiative on the November 2016 election ballot.

The group filed the petition Monday with the Secretary of State's satellite office in Hernando, says petition organizer Kelly Jacobs. It's the initial process in the ballot process.

"Now we are waiting for official approval from the Mississippi Secretary of State, and the Attorney General which will include a ballot initiative number and the official format for the collection of signatures," said Jacobs."The Mississippi Legislature also has the option to adopt our ballot initiative, but that is unlikely."

Secretary of State spokeswoman Pamela Weaver confirmed today that the peition has been filed.

If the Secretary of State's office and attorney general's office approve the petition, it would be then up to petition organizers to collect the approximately 110,000 signatures needed within 12 months to get the petition on the ballot. Voters would then have to approve the measure for it to become law.

Jacobs said the ballot initiative proposal would legalize cannabis for adults to own as much as they wish, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes. However, it must be kept from minors.

"We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it," Jacobs said. "It's an adult discussion we should be having."

Also, she said it would allow adults to raise cannabis, but no more than nine plants for their personal, private use, and they can gift and barter their cannabis with no tax charged.

Under the proposal, city and county governments would collect a fee of $25.00 or more, for a residence, if a cannabis or hemp farm is established in their territory, which is defined as an adult growing 10 or more cannabis plants. The size of the farm may determine a higher locality fee. A 10 percent tax would go to schools.

During this year's Neshoba County Fair, conservative Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon of Decatur predicted marijuana would be legalized in Mississippi within a decade although he would be opposed to it.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/30/colorado-marijuana-case/16483271/




(Colorado) Court considers whether legal marijuana use is 'lawful'




DENVER — In a closely watched court case with potential national implications, Colorado's highest court is considering whether an employee can be fired for using marijuana outside of work.

DISH Network in 2010 fired call-center worker Brandon Coats after he tested positive for marijuana. Coats, who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, says he never hid his off-duty medical marijuana use from his bosses. Instead, he argues, his three years of outstanding performance show he was a responsible worker who used pot nightly to help control seizures and spasms.

DISH argues Coats violated the company's zero-tolerance drug policy, and says he was treated no differently than an employee who showed up drunk. The two sides made oral arguments before the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Part of the problem is that detectable levels of marijuana can remains in a user's system for more than a month after consumption, long after the intoxicating effects have passed. If the state Supreme Court upholds lower court rulings, it could strip away any protections workers may have for using a legal substance in Colorado.

"If I can fight this fight in order to change that, that's what I'll do," Coats said outside of court Tuesday.

Coats brought his lawsuit against the company under Colorado's lawful off-duty activities law, which specifically says employers cannot fire people for doing something legal on their own time. The law originally protected cigarette smokers, among others, and predates the state's legalization of marijuana.

But now Coats is asking the court to consider whether marijuana use, be it medical or recreational, is "lawful" in Colorado. A decision either way could have wide-ranging implications for marijuana users and employers across the country.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana use, and Colorado and Washington states also have legalized recreational use. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and employment expert Curtis Graves of the Mountain States Employers Council said that until federal law changes, employees have few protections for using pot if their employers object.

"The writing's on the wall: I suspect that within a few years, marijuana is going to make that transition and be treated like alcohol, and employers are going to have to deal with it. At some point, we're going to have to come up with a better scheme," he said. "This case will settle it, but it will only be temporary."

DISH attorneys argue that since Coats knew about the zero-tolerance policy and still came to work with pot in his system, they had the right to fire him. They also argue that since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, he deserves no special protection.

"It doesn't matter if he's impaired or not," said DISH attorney Meghan Martinez. "Medical marijuana is not lawful in Colorado … therefore it cannot be a lawful activity."

The Colorado Attorney General's office has sided with DISH.

After the hearing, Coats' attorney, Michael Evans, said the confusion over whether federal or state law takes precedence when state voters have specifically legalized pot needs clarification. Evans asked the court to consider that Coats was working in a non-hazardous, non-executive position for a Colorado-based company, and that no one ever accused him of being impaired on the job.

"We're getting very confusing and mixed messages from everywhere," Evans said. "We know this is not going away. We need to get this clarified. Let's not put our head in the sand, and (let's) deal with this reasonably."

The court took the oral arguments under advisement and will issue a written ruling later.
 

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http://thinkprogress.org/justice/20...ngerment-charges-against-mom-for-medical-pot/




(Minnesota) Mother Faces Jail For Giving Her Son Marijuana That Stopped His Seizures



County prosecutors won’t let up on charging a Minnesota mom with child endangerment for giving her sick child medical marijuana. Angela Brown is headed for trial in a case that could send her to prison for two years, even though an already-passed medical marijuana law that goes into effect in 2015 would allow medical use of cannabis oil.

Angela Brown’s son Trey suffers severe pain and spasms from a traumatic brain injury. Brown said she tried a barrage of prescription medications before turning to marijuana, as her son was in so much pain and discomfort that he cried himself to sleep and started punching and cutting himself. Brown, like a number of exasperated parents, traveled to Colorado to purchase some cannabis oil regulated under Colorado law. And she reported a familiar story of parents attempting to treat their child’s pain and seizures: within an hour of giving her son medical marijuana his condition was relieved. “Once it hit his system, Trey said the pressure in his brain was relieved,” she told the Huffington Post. “You could literally see the muscle spasms stopping. He felt amazing.”

But after Brown shared her story with the “wrong person” she was reported to officials, officials seized the cannabis oil from her home and charged her with child endangerment and causing a child to need protection.

“The prosecutor’s version of this is that a good mom allows her child to be in pain, to self-harm, and attempt to take his life,” she told Valley News Live. “I guess that’s a good mom in his eyes.”

Some 23 states now have medical marijuana laws, although they have varying limitations. Many like Delaware have seen delays in implementation due in part to the federal marijuana prohibition, and Minnesota is one of two states that doesn’t allow smoking even with a medical recommendation. More than 100 families like Brown’s have traveled to Colorado for access to special cannabis oil that is known for providing unique seizure relief. And other families have reported that they stopped giving their child cannabis oil after threats of prosecution. As CNN Chief Medical Correspondent said when he reversed his position on medical marijuana last year, “sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.”

Other crackdowns have also continued. In June, Drug Enforcement Administration officials threatened to pull doctors’ licenses for recommending medical marijuana.

This week, Brown refused a deal in which she would have been given a one-year stay in her case in exchange for pleading guilty. She is circulating a petition to raise funds for her legal fees that has raised some $8,000 thus far.

“I didn’t give my son back alley pot. I gave him controlled medicinal cannabis,” Brown told KARE. “I want them to have compassion for a mother that was just trying to save her child.”
 

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http://www.coloradoan.com/story/new...uana-market-opens-doors-competition/16526545/




Colorado's marijuana market opens doors to competition




DENVER – Colorado's new marijuana industry is in for a brand new element Wednesday — competition.

The state gave medical marijuana dispensaries and growers a nine-month exclusive on the new recreational pot business, fearing an unmanageable explosion of new businesses.

The grandfathering period expires Wednesday, Oct. 1, meaning pot shops and growers who weren't in business before voters approved recreational pot in 2012 are just now able to enter the market.

"There's going to a price war coming. It's inevitable," predicted Toni Fox, a marijuana grower and owner of a Denver pot shop. Fox has received a license for a second shop in Salida.

Colorado is issuing licenses for 46 more pot shops, in addition to about 200 already in place. Colorado is also licensing 37 more growing facilities and 13 new product manufacturers who make marijuana-infused products.

The expansion means pot prices for consumers could soon drop. Recreational marijuana in Colorado currently wholesales for about $1,800 to $2,500 a pound, depending on quality. The addition of new growers starting Wednesday could push the price below $1,000 a pound once those plants mature.

Until now, Colorado's pot prices have been steep — with customers paying up to $400 an ounce before taxes — because of production caps tied to the pre-existing medical marijuana market. Colorado regulators feared an unmanageable proliferation of new pot shops and growers. Now, the market is for the first time getting bigger.

"Allowing for new entrants into the market will better facilitate a free-market determination of price," Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for Gov. John Hickenlooper, said in a statement.

Some warn Colorado needs to watch for overproduction, which could give growers an incentive to sell illegally, either out of state or to people younger than 21.

Also Wednesday, Colorado's pot industry sees the end of the state's so-called "70/30 Rule," which stipulated that pot shops had to grow 70 percent of what they sold. The rule was instituted in 2010, to address concerns that medical marijuana shops were acquiring marijuana from the black market. The rule was extended into the recreational market for the first few months, also to reduce volatility.

The industry expansion happens the same day a raft of new marijuana regulations take effect, including:.

• Requiring edible pot products to be easier for consumers to divide into "servings" of 10 milligrams of THC, pot's active ingredient.

• New packaging requirements for products that can't easily be divided or perforated, such as liquids or granolas.

• Requiring edible marijuana products to undergo testing for common food contaminants such as E. coli and salmonella.

• A requirement that marijuana producers show they are legally selling 85 percent of their product before getting permission to add plants.

• Lower licensing fees for growers and retailers.
 

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http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/loc...marijuana-operations-targeted-maine/16501153/




(Maine) Suspects steal from 3 medical marijuana ops in 2 weeks




WINTERPORT, Maine (NECN) -- Three medical marijuana growing operations in Maine have been targeted by thieves in the last two weeks. In one case, a grower was attacked and hospitalized with injuries. The crime spree is now raising questions about the security around grow sites and the safety of the people who farm them.

Catherine Lewis and her husband Glenn are two of the roughly 1500 licensed medical marijuana growers in Maine. They said the recent crimes against growers in Winterport, Standish and Lewiston have made them nervous.

"It makes me more than nervous," said Catherine Lewis. "It strikes fear in my heart, especially if you have a family."

In Winterport, State Police said three men made off with armfuls of mature plants by impersonating law enforcement officers. In Standish, a grower was hospitalized after police said two men, Clyde Humiston of Portland and Justin Vadas of Gray, attacked him and sprayed him with pepper spray in an attempt to steal his plants. Police said the crimes point to Maine's substance abuse problem and the fact that there's a market for high quality marijuana.

"My advice is the same as anyone with prescribed narcotics. You need to keep it locked up and out of view and tell and let very few people know you're in possession of it," said Lt. Aaron Hayden with the Maine State Police.

The Lewises said they already have security cameras, locks and bars on the doors, but are going to take the next step.

"We've actually hired a security firm to go through the grow area to make it more secure," said Catherine.

Growers said the best way to reduce crimes around medical marijuana is to legalize it.

"Once they legalize it, it will be much less desirable for people," said Lewis.

Until that day comes, they'll be tightening security around their indoor farm, knowing people will go to desperate measures to get their product.
 

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/a...isk-increases-FIVE-fold-hour-drug-smoked.html




Cannabis 'can trigger a heart attack': Risk increases FIVE-fold in the hour after drug is smoked




Smoking cannabis can have a devastating effect on the heart, new research has warned.

Doctors say the risk increases by almost five times in the first hour after the drug is smoked.

They cite the case of a 21-year-old man who had a heart attack after smoking cannabis - and say the drug was to blame.

The report, published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, described the man as a regular marijuana and cigarette smoker.

He arrived at the emergency department at the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff complaining of a sharp pain on the left side of his chest that lasted for half an hour.

He said the pain started after he played a game of football.

A month before, doctors at the same hospital had diagnosed him with muscle pain after he went to the emergency department complaining of the same symptoms after playing football.

But this time, tests showed his triglyceride and cholesterol levels – fats in the blood - were much higher than normal.

He was rushed to the nearest cardiology centre, where an X-ray of his coronary arteries revealed a blood clot blocking the heart’s blood supply, which resulted in a heart attack.

Doctors said cannabis use was the most significant cause of the ‘acute coronary syndrome’ he suffered.

This is the medical term for the symptoms which occur when the coronary artery is blocked.

The man had no other risk factors for cardiovascular problems, and although he had used cocaine four months previously, this was judged to be too long ago to have caused it.

Doctors said it is not known how smoking marijuana can cause a heart attack, but that it is known to affect blood flow, increase heart rate, cause high blood pressure when sitting down and low pressure when standing up.

The report backs up previous research which found that smoking marijuana can trigger heart attacks in the young and middle-aged.

French researchers warned that people with pre-existing heart weaknesses are at greatest risk.

Writing in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, the Welsh medics said: ‘Although our patient was a cigarette smoker and had elevated lipid levels, cannabis use was identified as the most significant precipitant of his acute coronary syndrome (ACS).’

They added there is evidence cannabis seems to be a rare trigger factor for heart attacks, with the risk increased by almost five times in the first hour after smoking it.

They pointed to other cases where doctors said cannabis had caused heart problems, and advised that medics should ask about cannabis use when patients complain of chest pain or have heart-related problems.

The researchers concluded: ‘There is an increasing amount of data to suggest an association between cannabis use and ACS, though no specific mechanism has yet been established.

‘We suggest that a history of cannabis use be specifically sought from patients presenting with acute coronary syndrome, particularly if they have no conventional cardiovascular risk factors, and that such patients should be counselled to stop using cannabis to reduce their risk of recurrent events.’
 

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http://www.independent.ie/world-news/jamaica-drafts-new-cannabis-laws-30628681.html




Jamaica drafts new cannabis laws




The Caribbean island's justice minister Mark Golding told reporters that parliamentarians should make possession of two ounces or less a petty offence before the end of 2014.

He also expects decriminalisation for religious purposes to be authorised by then, allowing adherents of the home-grown Rastafarian spiritual movement to ritually smoke cannabis, which they consider a "holy herb," without fear of arrest.

Mr Golding said it will take longer to agree on more complex changes to Jamaica's Dangerous Drugs Act which would be needed to spur a medical cannabis research sector.

He said Jamaica, where scientists developed a cannabis-derived medication to treat glaucoma decades ago, is "well-positioned to be a forerunner" in efforts to research therapeutic uses of the plant.

As Jamaica advances decriminalisation, the government is committed to battling drug traffickers, Mr Golding stressed. He said keeping cannabis away from children, the international black market and organised crime will be a top priority.

Previous efforts to decriminalise the drug, or "ganja" as it is largely known in Jamaica, failed to advance because Jamaican officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington.

But those concerns have eased now that a number of nations and some US states have relaxed cannabis laws.

Mr Golding said the regulatory framework needed for a medical cannabis and scientific research industry in Jamaica is still being examined.

Setting maximum limits on cultivation is not anticipated, he said, but the government wants to ensure that small farmers "are not excluded and it does not just become something exclusively for major capital-intensive investors".
 
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