MJ News for 12/15/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/12/with_tribal_territories_in_36.html




(Native American) Indian marijuana sales could make getting pot a lot easier




Legalized marijuana growth and sales could be the biggest cash boom for Native American lands since gambling operations cropped across the nation, experts say.

But at what cost? And what will this mean for states - like Alabama - where marijuana sales are illegal?

Here's what one expert said:

"This has nothing to do with medicine, this has to do with the commercialization of marijuana," Kevin A. Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida told the Miami Herald. "If you live 10 minutes away from a reservation, you could be living 10 minutes away from a pot shop."

The Department of Justice issued a memo last week clearing the way for Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana on their land under similar regulations already in place for states that have legalized pot. The trade will be allowed in all states, even those where the drug remains illegal.

There are 36 states with federally recognized tribal territories. Alabama has one federally recognized tribe: The Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Their reservation is located eight miles northwest of Atmore in rural Escambia County about 57 miles east of Mobile. They operate three gaming casinos: Wind Creek Casino and Hotel in Atmore; Creek Casino Wetumpka; and, Creek Casino Montgomery.

Tribe officials said they are evaluating the DOJ ruling.

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group- said if handled properly legalization would mean revenue and jobs for the Indian reservation.

"Regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol would ensure the product is controlled, and it would bring significant revenue and new jobs to these communities," Tvert told US News. "Studies have consistently found above-average rates of alcohol abuse and related problems among Native American communities, so it would be incredibly beneficial to provide adults with a safer recreational alternative."

The DOJ said only three tribes, all in the western U.S. has expressed an interest in entering the marijuana trade. Each application to do so would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, federal officials said.
 

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http://reason.com/archives/2014/12/15/did-congress-stop-marijuana-legalization




Did Congress Stop Marijuana Legalization in D.C.?




The omnibus spending bill that Congress approved last week includes a rider aimed at blocking marijuana legalization in Washington, D.C. Whether it actually will do that is a matter of debate, and the way this provision was passed suggests that pot prohibitionists are in a weaker position than ever before.

The rider, introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), says "none of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance." House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), another ardent drug warrior, claims this spending restriction "prohibits both federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District." But that is not quite accurate, since the rider refers to enactment, not implementation.

By contrast, an earlier version of the Harris rider dealt with spending to "enact or carry out" decriminalization or legalization of any Schedule I drug. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's congressional delegate, says that difference could prove crucial, because Initiative 71, the D.C. ballot measure legalizing marijuana possession, home cultivation, and sharing, "was enacted when it was approved overwhelmingly by voters in November." The initiative's elimination of penalties for specified marijuana-related activities is "self-executing," Norton says, requiring no additional legislation by the D.C. Council or by Congress. In other words, the event Harris seeks to prevent has already happened.

Harris and his allies point out that Initiative 71 will not take effect until it survives congressional review, which does not begin until D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson officially submits the measure to Congress. At that point, Congress has 30 legislative days to pass a joint resolution rejecting the initiative. If Congress fails to pass a resolution during the review period, the initiative takes effect automatically.

Since this process of submission and review entails some use of public money, wouldn't it be blocked by Harris' rider? Maybe not. There is a difference, after all, between enacting a measure and making it effective. A law passed this year might not take effect until next year, but that does not mean it was not enacted this year. The Harris rider only bars enactment of Initiative 71, Norton says, and it's too late for that.

That looks like a pretty strong argument to me,since the District of Columbia Home Rule Act says a ballot initiative "shall take effect" at the end of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval has been enacted by then. If Congress does pass a resolution and the president signs it, the resolution "shall be deemed to have repealed" the initiative. You cannot repeal a law that was never enacted. Although Harris claims his rider "prevents the ultimate enactment of the ballot initiative," that seems like a stretch. Lawyers at D.C.'s Office of the Attorney General are examining the question but have not reached any conclusions yet.

Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), agrees with Norton's analysis. "While Initiative 71 won't take effect until after the Council transmits it to Congress in January and it goes through an administrative 30-day review period," he says, "it has very clearly already been enacted by the voters." DPA notes that Democratic leaders in the House, "including members who were part of the funding bill negotiations," have said "the D.C. rider allows Initiative 71 to stand."

If Norton is right, the Harris rider, which applies through next September, will not stop Initiative 71 from taking effect, although it will prevent the District from licensing and regulating marijuana businesses, since that would require new legislation. Because of restrictions on the legal changes that can be made by ballot measure in D.C., the initiative does not address commercial production and distribution. If it takes effect, homegrown marijuana will be the only legal source, so cannabis consumers who want to stay within the law but are not up to cultivating plants will have to cultivate friends who are.

Why did Harris weaken his rider by excising the reference to carrying out drug policy reforms? The answer, as reported by The Washington Times, is revealing:

Chris Meekins, Mr. Harris' spokesman, said the "carrying out" phrase cited by Ms. Norton was removed from this version in order to avoid confusion around whether the amendment would strike the city's current drug laws. Over the summer when the initial rider emerged, pro-pot activists countered that, if the city was blocked from carrying out its new marijuana decriminalization policies, marijuana would become legal as a result.

That earlier rider, attached to another spending bill, was aimed at reversing the District's decriminalization of marijuana, which changed possession of up to an ounce from a misdemeanor to a citable offense punishable by a $25 fine. The rider passed the House Appropriations Committee by a mainly party-line vote in June, but it was omitted from the final legislation because of resistance from Senate Democrats. At the time Harris was determined to stop the District from treating marijuana possession in a way he considered too lenient, which he warned would encourage teenagers to smoke pot. But now he has given up that battle. On Wednesday he told reporters that "decriminalization…is allowed under the omnibus language."

Harris also emphasized that he is not trying to interfere with D.C.'s medical marijuana law, which Congress blocked for more than a decade via a spending restriction similar to his rider. But broader legalization is unacceptable, Harris says, because it "will result in higher drug use among teens."

Marijuana reform activists were dismayed that Senate Democrats went along with Harris' attempt to override the will of D.C. voters, who approved Initiative 71 by a margin of more than 2 to 1. "They're basically overturning an election," says Nikolas Schiller, director of communications for the D.C. Cannabis Campaign. "I mean, why vote if you're going to nullify what we said?" On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared that "the District of Columbia should do what they want to do." By Tuesday night, however, Reid had surrendered on that point, presumably in exchange for Republican concessions that were more important to him.

Still, reformers could view the rushed back-room dealing that inserted the Harris rider into a must-pass spending bill in the waning days of the 113th Congress as a hopeful sign. It suggests that Republicans were not eager to take up this issue next year, when they will control the Senate as well as the House. Even if stopping legalization in D.C. were a high priority for them, it is doubtful whether they could muster enough votes to pass a resolution of disapproval, let alone enough to overcome a likely veto by a president who opposes interfering with the District's marijuana policies. "House Republicans were only able to pass this D.C. rider by doing it behind closed doors," Piper says, "with no debate or transparency."

If they had chosen to challenge Initiative 71 after the new Congress convenes, Harris and his allies would have had to contend not only with Democrats who think D.C. should have more leeway to control its own affairs but with the growing ranks of Republicans who question the imposition of marijuana prohibition on jurisdictions that reject it. The same spending bill that includes the Harris rider, which aims to block marijuana reform, also includes an amendment that aims to prevent the feds from interfering with marijuana reform. The latter provision, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), prohibits the Justice Department from spending money to prevent D.C. or the states from "implementing…laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." The Rohrabacher amendment passed the House last May with support from 219 members, including 49 Republicans. A Senate version, co-sponsored by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), was introduced in June but never got a vote.

Rohrabacher and Paul both have said Congress should not override D.C.'s marijuana reforms. Judging from the vote on Rohrabacher's amendment, they are not the only Republicans who take that position, which jibes with conservatives' general preference for local control.

Harris notes that "D.C.'s not a state," so it does not have the same autonomy under the Constitution as a state does. But the arguments for federalism—in particular, the idea that political decisions should be made at the lowest feasible level to facilitate citizen influence, familiarity with local conditions, policy experimentation, and competition among jurisdictions—apply to D.C. as well as the states, and those arguments resonate with many conservatives. As Rohrabacher notes, so do defenses of "individual liberties" and "limited government," which hardly count in favor of forcing D.C. to punish people for peaceful activities that violate no one's rights.

"It is disheartening and frustrating to learn that once again the District of Columbia is being used as a political pawn by the Congress," says D.C. Council Member David Grosso, author of a bill that would authorize licensing and regulation of marijuana growers and retailers. "To undermine the vote of the people—taxpayers—does not foster or promote the 'limited government' stance House Republicans claim they stand for; it's uninformed paternalistic meddling."

The divide reflected in the Harris and Rohrabacher riders pits venerable conservative principles against blind hatred of a plant. In light of polls indicating that most Americans oppose marijuana prohibition, which agenda represents a more promising future for the Republican Party?
 

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http://mashable.com/2014/12/15/marijuana-growers-go-public/






Marijuana growers sprout on Wall Street as pot goes public




Derek Peterson may soon become the first CEO of a public company that cultivates, distributes and sells marijuana.

Terra Tech Corp., based in Irvine, California, won approval last week from the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $6.8 million to build and operate medical marijuana operations in Nevada, where the company secured preliminary approvals.

The company will seek to raise about $7 million more later in the year, Peterson said.

The company’s MediFarm division, which plans to grow, distribute and sell marijuana in Reno, Las Vegas and other parts of the state, has blazed new ground in the on-going debate over marijuana legalization by gaining acceptance from a federal agency, the SEC, which is tasked with safeguarding public markets and investors. The federal government, after all, still considers marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin or LSD.

“We were nervous, not knowing if they would run us around in circles or just say `No, find other sources of financing,’” Peterson said in an interview. “In the end they kind of told us that, statutorily, they can’t tell us what to do in the space we’re in, their job is to make sure investors are aware of every risk.”

Peterson is betting the federal government will drop its opposition to marijuana after voters in California and Nevada approve ballot measures in 2016 that will legalize recreational use. Along with already on-going recreational sales in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, that may force the federal government to revisit its prohibition, he said.

“I firmly believe this industry will be regulated like alcohol,” Peterson said. “If all goes well, I’m optimistic the federal government could end its prohibition in five to 10 years.”

Peterson and a partner already operate an Oakland, California, medical marijuana lab and a dispensary that averages 900 customers a day. That operation could be folded into Terra Tech now that the company has received SEC approvals, he said.

Legal marijuana sales in the U.S. this year will total about $2.3 billion, according to a report by ArcView Group, a venture capital firm in San Francisco specializing in the marijuana industry. By 2018, ArcView expects sales to exceed $10 billion.

More marijuana growers are close behind Terra Tech in seeking approval from the SEC to sell shares to the public, either through initial share offerings or through so-called reverse mergers, where a private company buys a failed business that is already public. Several marijuana companies, including WeedMaps Media Inc., PotBotics and GrowBox USA, are in various stages of IPO-planning.

Medical Marijuana Inc. and a few other medical companies make oils and other products laced with THC, the ingredient in pot causes a high, are already public, however they aren’t growing the plants themselves. There are also Canadian marijuana growers trading in Toronto that are seeking U.S. listings.

Public markets provide an easy and inexpensive source of financing, Peterson said, especially compared with institutional banks and other lenders that aren’t willing risk loaning money to companies engaged in a business that the federal government still considers illegal.

On a public exchange, investors seeking higher-risk, possibly higher-reward, investments can more easily place money.

Terra Tech reached an agreement with Dominion Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, to buy almost all of the stock issued by the company.

Dominion profits by gradually selling those shares on the open market. The arrangement was brokered by Aegis Capital Corp., a New York-based investment advisor.

Terra Tech’s shares are sold over-the-counter, meaning they aren’t on an exchange like the American Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.

However, there are precedents for exchanges to permit companies that comply with local state laws to list shares, even while those business might violate federal laws. There was a time when it was controversial that casinos, which legally operated in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, would be able to list shares while gambling was frowned upon by federal regulators.

“I’m not sure if the exchanges are ready for companies like ours yet,” Peterson said. “We’ve had some back-channel conversations but we get the sense they first want to see some broader shifts with the federal government’s position on marijuana.”

Terra Tech also operates a division called GrowOp Technology that manufactures hydroponic agriculture equipment helpful for growing plants indoors as most marijuana is currently. The company also operates Edible Garden, which uses hydroponic technology to provide locally grown produce to 1,000 retailers in the northwest, Midwest and Florida, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Those operations serve two purposes, Peterson said. If the federal government legalizes marijuana, the divisions give Terra Tech a nationwide infrastructure to distribute pot.

Or if the government cracks down on pot growers, “that’s Plan B,” Peterson said.
 

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http://theweek.com/speedreads/index...-marijuana-users-have-concealed-carry-permits





Colorado gun group: Let marijuana users have concealed carry permits




Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone in Westminster, Colorado, doesn't see why legal recreational and medical marijuana can't coexist with concealed carry permits, so he has filed a proposed ballot measure that would bring Colorado's gun laws in line with its marijuana laws.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado concealed handgun permit application currently asks if you are 'an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance,'" the Washington Times reports.

Since Coloradoans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 and recreational marijuana for adults in 2012, it's unclear what type of user is defined by state law as "unlawful," though some say that the entire state of Colorado is in violation of federal law.

"Marijuana is legal in Colorado, and the people voted to regulate it like alcohol," said Isaac Chase, the co-founder of Antillon's Colorado Campaign for Equal Gun Rights. "Consumers of alcohol are allowed to conceal, so should marijuana users."

The initiative needs 86,105 signatures to qualify for the ballot. - - Teresa Mull
 

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http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...ssachusetts/6L4pKEDgtNbDsE1mnS09NN/story.html





When Will Marijuana Be Legal in Massachusetts?





Given Massachusetts voters’ overwhelming support for recent marijuana ballot initiatives — decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in 2008 and legalizing medical marijuana in 2012 — the future of legal weed in the Bay State looks bright.

So when is Massachusetts going to legalize recreational marijuana? The short answer: Soon. Probably.

Now for the longer answer: A local group called Bay State Repeal is organizing and getting signatures for a ballot question in 2016 that, if passed, would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. A more powerful national group, Marijuana Policy Project, also organized a referundum committee, a first step in a process that is less than two years away.

“We’ve filed a committee so we can begin the process of raising money,” Mason Tvert, director of communications as MPP said. So far, though, they are “in the infancy of what will ultimately be a big effort.”

MPP has expertise in the area of marijuana ballot initiatives, as it led the efforts to legalize sales of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state. Both of those created a template for other weed-friendly states hoping to cash in on new tax revenues.

There’s been some tensions between the national, more established MPP and the local Bay State Repeal (BSR). The latter group has said they feel shut out of the process of drafting the ballot initiative, but Tvert said that the two groups have been in touch in these early stages.

Despite those disagreements, precedent shows that Bay State Repeal will need a national group to join in the effort to successfully legalize marijuana. Having a major group behind it like MPP brings in the money, after all.

“There’s really no example of a local entity that gathers enough signatures, gets on ballot, and successfully defends it,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “[Local groups say] ‘Oh, we’re gonna raise the money locally!’ Really? It hasn’t happened yet.”

When these groups do ultimately draft a ballot initiative, it likely has the public support to pass.

“Massachusetts is absolutely one of the states in 2016 that are primed for reform,” St. Pierre said. The numbers back up that assertion:

• Both the 2008 and 2012 ballot initiatives on marijuana were approved by 63 percent of the voters.

• 53 percent of likely voters said they favor marijuana legalization in a Suffolk/Boston Herald poll in January 2014. Just 37 percent said they opposed it.

• Similarly, 48 percent of voters support legalization in a March poll by WBUR, while 41 percent opposed.

• The support is particularly strong among young people, as 60 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds said they support legalization. Just 31 percent of young people were opposed, WBUR found.

That advantage among Millennials leads us to 2016. That’s a presidential election year, which typically brings out a younger, more liberal voter demographic. Those young voters are the people who most support marijuana legalization, making 2016 the prime year that bans on marijuana go up on smoke.

Of course, passing a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana would not necessarily immediately create a market for the drug. Two years since medical marijuana was approved by voters, there were no dispensaries yet open in the state in October. The majority of available dispensary licenses have not been officially awarded by the state.
 

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http://www.manchestereveningnews.co...ws+(News+-+Manchester+Evening+News+-+RSS+Feed)





(UK) Man's campaign to be get cannabis extract on NHS after surgery leaves him with agonising spasms




A man is campaigning to be given cannabis extract on the NHS saying it is the only thing which controls his pain and allows him to eat.

Jacob Barrow, 27, says he has been left in near constant pain after surgery seven years ago to resolve complications from a childhood hernia.

The operation was meant to remove scar tissue which had built up since surgery when he was born to correct a massive hernia in his abdomen.

But the procedure instead left him with agonising abdominal spasms leaving him unable to eat, with severe digestive problems and severely underweight.

Conventional medication including morphine, codeine and cocodamol-based pain relief have been prescribed has been unable to cope with their side effects.

Jacob, from Chorlton, Manchester, says the only thing which relieves the pain is cannabis.

He currently buys the drug illegally to eat or make tea, but is campaigning to be given the medicinal extract Sativex on the NHS.

A petition calling for him to be given the medication attracted over 1,000 signatures.

Jacob is also being supported by the United Patients Alliance, which backs medicinal cannabis users.

Sativex is thought to work through its active ingredients THC and CBD working on receptors in the brain which in turn control the body’s immune cells.

Used as a mouth spray, Sativex is currently only licenced for use by patients with Multiple Sclerosis as an ‘add-on therapy’ if other medication proves ineffective.

The MEN understands under Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group, a decision on whether to prescribe Sativex comes down to individual hospital consultants.

Jacob, a musician, who is currently unable to work due to the chronic pain, said: “I’ve been told by doctors they don’t want to operate again because in a worst case scenario it could kill me.

“I’ve been prescribed morphine and tramadol but they all just mess with my head and I don’t want to take them indefinitely.

“On bad days I am curled in the fetal position in pain and it’s very difficult to eat.

“At the moment I am buying cannabis illegally but I would like to get it legally with Sativex.

“My GP refused to prescribe it for me saying cannabis is dangerous but it is the only thing I have found which helps.

“I want to be able to work - I think when people meet me and see the 11 inch scar down my body from the surgery they understand.”
 

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http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2014/12/marijuana_news_after_rejection.html





After rejections, Washington cannabis grower finally donates portion of auction proceeds





A Prosser, Wash., marijuana grower who auctioned his crop last month finally donated a portion of the proceeds.

Randy Williams, the grower behind Fireweed Farms, initially hoped to donate $14,000 to Prosser schools, but the superintendent rejected the offer, saying it sent the wrong message about marijuana. Then Williams tried giving it to the local Boys and Girls club, but they too turned him down.

But now the Yakima Herald reports that Williams has managed to find a cause -- and a needy family -- willing to take his cash.

The newspaper reports:

The 56-year-old grower said he was bombarded with requests from groups seeking donations.

“My phone is ringing off the hook with people who want that money,” Williams said in a brief phone call Monday. He declined further comment.

Williams donated $1,000 to the local VFW and $13,000 to a local family.

-- The Oregonian
 
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