Senators Call on Sessions, DOJ to Stop Blocking Federal Medical Marijuana Research

Washington, D.C. – Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a known anti-drug crusader, to cease reported efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency to slow medical marijuana research, following reports that the Department of Justice was blocking medical marijuana research efforts by delaying approvals … Continue reading Senators Call on Sessions, DOJ to Stop Blocking Federal Medical Marijuana Research

Health and Human Services Secretary: ‘No Such Thing As Medical Marijuana’

Kettering, OH— While speaking on March 2nd at a press conference on opioids at an inpatient facility that treats newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar proclaimed that “there really is no such thing as medical marijuana” in response to a question regarding what he sees as the … Continue reading Health and Human Services Secretary: ‘No Such Thing As Medical Marijuana’

Cronos Becomes First Marijuana Producer Listed on U.S. Stock Exchange

New York, NY— On February 27th, the Cronos Group Inc., a major Canadian medical marijuana producer, began trading on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol “CRON” — making it the first cannabis company to attain a listing on any major U.S. stock exchange. “It’s very significant for the company and the whole industry,” said … Continue reading Cronos Becomes First Marijuana Producer Listed on U.S. Stock Exchange

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Treasury Department Considering Removal of Marijuana Banking Protections

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration is weighing the removal of an Obama-era protocol that permitted banks to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses without being considered in violation of law, according to a recent report by Forbes. In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to overturn the Cole Memo, which had previously laid … Continue reading Treasury Department Considering Removal of Marijuana Banking Protections

San Francisco D.A. to Eliminate Marijuana Convictions en Masse

Under authorities granted by the November 2016 California ballot initiative Proposition 64 that legalized recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older in the state, San Franscisco District Attorney George Gascón has announced in a statement that his office “will be reviewing, recalling and resentencing up to 4,940 felony marijuana convictions and dismissing and sealing 3,038 misdemeanors … Continue reading San Francisco D.A. to Eliminate Marijuana Convictions en Masse

Marijuana Shows Potential in Treating Painkiller Addiction

Could marijuana be just what the doctor ordered to kick an addiction to opioid painkillers, the most widely prescribed class of drugs in America today? Two reputable studies published in the last year point to this conclusion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving painkillers … Continue reading Marijuana Shows Potential in Treating Painkiller Addiction

GOP-led Pa. House Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 3 on Wednesday by a vote of 149-43. If it becomes law, the legislation would legalize medical marijuana in the state. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, leaders in the state’s GOP-led Senate have said that the bill is expected to pass the Senate as well. “I applaud the … Continue reading GOP-led Pa. House Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Attorney General Appeals Judge’s Order to Issue Medical Marijuana Card

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal in late December seeking the state Supreme Court’s opinion on whether patients are allowed to get their medical marijuana outside of the New Hampshire, according to documents recently obtained by InDepthNH. The appeal follows a Merrimack County Superior judge’s November 2015 order to issue a patient ID card … Continue reading New Hampshire Attorney General Appeals Judge’s Order to Issue Medical Marijuana Card

Vermont Police No Longer Training K9s to Detect Marijuana

A report from the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus revealed that Vermont’s police force has stopped training its police dogs to detect the odor of marijuana. According to the Times Argus, this is the first year that marijuana detection has not been part of the regular training of the state’s police dogs. The paper reported that the decision … Continue reading Vermont Police No Longer Training K9s to Detect Marijuana

Judge Orders State of NH to Issue Medical Marijuana Card to Dying Cancer Patient

Concord, New Hampshire- While the state of New Hampshire continues to deal with delays in its implementation of a medical marijuana program approved in 2013, a Merrimack County Superior judge has ruled in favor of a woman suffering from late-stage lung cancer seeking access to a medical marijuana card.

Linda Horan, an Alstead resident suffering from stage 4 lung cancer, is seeking to obtain marijuana in the neighboring state of Maine because New Hampshire has yet to open any marijuana dispensaries despite approving a medical marijuana program. The Maine Medical Marijuana Act was passed in 1999 and the program was further expanded by voters in 2009.

New Hampshire, a state governed by Democrats for over a decade, appears to be experiencing much more difficulty approving and implementing medical marijuana than its neighboring states. While Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan signed a limited medical marijuana program into law in 2013, the program becoming a reality for patients in New Hampshire has been a lengthy process. Patients are continuing to wait for access as the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has just begun accepting applications for cards. No cards will be issued until dispensaries are opened, which is not expected to happen until early next year.

The Marijuana Policy Project provided an overview pointing to certain actions taken by the state which have led to delays, including the attorney general’s office “postponing its implementation of the patient registry process” in 2014.

In addition, rather than appointing “a member of the public” and “a qualifying patient” to an advisory council tasked with overseeing the law’s implementation, MPP noted that Gov. Hassan appointed Tuftonboro Police Chief Andrew Shagoury, as well as a patient described by MPP as “completely unknown to the patients who had supported the bill” who has not attended any meetings. On the council, Chief Shagoury represents the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, an organization which has been a longtime and vocal opponent of medical marijuana legalization.

Before filing the lawsuit, Horan addressed Gov. Hassan during a NH AFL-CIO lifetime achievement award speech, asking the governor in an emotional plea to open dispensaries “not just for me, but for all the other sick people in this state.”

Shortly after Horan filed her lawsuit, MPP’s New England Political Director Matt Simon told Truth In Media that “the fact that a terminal cancer patient like Linda Horan still can’t be protected from arrest in New Hampshire is appalling and downright insane.”

Simon noted that “Governor Hassan signed the law creating this program on July 23, 2013, but somehow, patients today are still criminals if they choose to use marijuana as a substitute for prescription painkillers. This lawsuit shouldn’t even be necessary, but patients all over New Hampshire will be watching closely and hoping for a successful result.“

Horan showed frustration over the fact that New Hampshire has had multiple delays in providing patients with access to medical marijuana. “The state simply needs to issue me an ID card so that I can access the medicine that I need,” said Horan, according to the Union Leader. “It’s hard to imagine why it would take more than two years for that. There are seriously ill people throughout New Hampshire who are suffering every day they go without it.” 

“I want the state to stop dragging your feet over a technicality when you’re dealing with sick people,” she was also quoted as saying. “We don’t have the time to fool around.” 

Although Horan had expressed urgency in seeking medical marijuana and has been given a few months to live, state officials argued against the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Gov. Hassan argued in a statement that “the law that we have put in place- as approved by the legislature- requires ID cards to contain the ‘registry identification number corresponding with the alternative treatment center (dispensary) the qualifying patient designated,’ which prevents the issuance of these cards until the ATCs are open.”

The Concord Monitor reported that “state officials, including Gov. Maggie Hassan, have maintained patients could not get ID cards until dispensaries, or Alternative Treatment Centers, in the state are open, which is expected to happen early next year.”

Judge Richard McNamara disagreed with the state’s argument. “Nowhere does the statute say that a qualifying patient can only obtain cannabis from a New Hampshire ATC,” wrote McNamara.

Hassan did not provide comments after McNamara’s ruling. Horan is expected to receive a card on Wednesday.

Ben Swann released a Truth In Media episode in 2014 which exposed the government’s hypocrisy in publicly treating marijuana as a health hazard while it holds two patents on cannabis for medical use.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

A bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would end federal prohibition on marijuana and allow legalization to be determined by the states. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 states that it would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana, ultimately … Continue reading Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Indiana County Introduces Marijuana Goggles to Curb Teen Use

Two groups out of Hancock County in Indiana are utilizing marijuana goggles as a new method to warn teens about the effects of marijuana.

Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse (NASA) allowed the Hancock County Youth Council, an anti-drug organization comprised of teens from several area high schools, to use the goggles first before introducing them at a community event scheduled for this weekend.

Tim Retherford of NASA said “Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions.”

According to WNCN’s report, the teens are seen wearing goggles bearing the brand name “Fatal Vision” on the headband.

The Fatal Vision marijuana goggles are described as “a hands-on awareness building tool that simulates the distorted processing of visual information, loss of motor coordination, and slowed decision making and reaction time resulting from recreational marijuana use.”

Fatal Vision marijuana goggles were developed by Innocorp Ltd., a company that manufactures several simulated impairment products to mimic the effects of alcohol and other drugs. The marijuana goggle packages start at $975. The most expensive set, priced at $2,200, includes a “D.I.E.S” (Danger In Every Step) vinyl mat “that demonstrates impairment of reaction time, motor skills, memory, decision making abilities and shows potential consequences associated with driving or walking under the influence of recreational marijuana.”

WNCN reported that one of the effects of the goggles is taking away “the ability to see the color red, which makes tasks like seeing brake lights harder.” Fatal Vision’s goggles also have a green lens that “acts as a filter that screens out potentially important information needed to make a decision in the specifically designed activities.” 

The teens were tasked with completing a paper maze. Without wearing the goggles, the teens completed the maze within 12 seconds; the goggles reportedly made the wearers take about four times longer to finish the maze. WNCN’s video also showed teens with the goggles on using a steering wheel attached to a pole attempting to move a toy car around on a floor map.

“These might not be the exact results, but these are very close to exactly what some people in our community are going out and driving in,” said New Palestine High School senior Keelie Baker.

Matt Simon, Legislative Analyst and New England Political Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said that “Whoever invented ‘marijuana goggles’ has apparently never consumed cannabis, or is simply a brilliant marketer.” 

Simon cautioned that an unintended consequence may be that “kids who try ‘Fatal Vision’ goggles will be more likely to try cannabis so they can find out for themselves if the effects are actually similar to the goggles.” Simon also noted that “it’s ridiculous for [Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse] to go by the acronym ‘NASA.’ Really, I think that one is already taken.”

Colorado Becomes First State To Generate More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than From Alcohol Sales

Colorado became the first state in the nation’s history to make more annual revenue off of taxes imposed on marijuana sales than taxes on alcohol, according to numbers released by the Colorado Department of Revenue. A report from the department, which looked at the taxes collected from  July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, found that the … Continue reading Colorado Becomes First State To Generate More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than From Alcohol Sales

EXCLUSIVE: Why The First Marijuana Commercial Was Pulled From TV

Federal regulation of marijuana is an ongoing challenge for businesses operating under state law providing marijuana products for recreational use and dispensaries providing marijuana medicine to patients as compassionate caregivers. But what about the organizations working to promote these operations that are legal under state and local law?

CannaBrand is one such company, and it recently dealt with the decision to air—and then pull—what would have been the first marijuana commercial on live television.

A public relations, marketing and advertising agency, CannaBrand represents a number of clients that distribute cannabis products including Denver’s cannabis oil and vaporizer provider Neos. According to CannaBrand co-founder Olivia Mannix, ABC affiliate KMGH in Denver contacted her company to let them know that the station was open to airing or broadcasting cannabis-related commercials, under a few restrictions—that cannabis could not be visible in the ad and it could not be referred to directly.

“We put together a commercial for Neos because we thought it was a really great opportunity [to be among] the first cannabis commercials that will be broadcasted and such,” Mannix said. “But basically what happened was, it was about to run and at the very last minute, ABC got back to us and said the commercial is on hold now. So it got moved to Tuesday instead of Monday. Then on that Monday, we heard that they were being pulled altogether.”

Mannix said that her understanding of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which is the amendment that legalized the recreational us of cannabis in the state, meant that commercials were allowed as long as it can be proven that the viewers are over 21.

“ABC local channel News 7 just had a Nielsen report run and it was showing that during 10:30 p.m. Mountain Time, 97 percent of the audience is over the age of 21,” she explained. “So understandably all parties involved would think that this is legal and compliant and such. . . . It’s definitely really interesting in how it that played out and there’s definitely been quite hype about the whole thing. We are curious to see if there will be any changes made. It’s just a lot of grey areas. We are going to be working in the MED, the Marijuana Enforcement Division, to figure out a solution and really figure out how we can have defined laws so there will be no more confusion.”

If television ads are still out of the question, what about advertising on the web, on radio and podcasts?

“Some local radio channels allow for cannabis related ads, so voice overs,” Mannix said. “We can also advertise on cannabis publications, so Culture Magazine, for instance, is one. There’s the Westword here in Denver, which is more of a Denver lifestyle magazine, but they have an entire cannabis section. High Times magazine out of New York City, and then there are actually some non-cannabis-related publications that allow for it. It it’s still definitely a grey area, but I do think that over time there’s going to be more ads allowed.”

In marketing marijuana, Mannix said her company has to be hyper strategic and creative in the way they help clients get their message to their target market. “One of the biggest things that we do is digital marketing—social media management, email marketing—because we can really control the messaging,” she said. “And really, your social media pages, like your Facebook and Twitter, that’s really your brand voice and the face of your brand. So you can talk to your target market through those portals. Another great thing is PR, because you can communicate with journalists about your brand, and then you have a even broader reach because there are no restrictions with PR because it is under the First Amendment freedom of speech, so you are not really restricted on that level. But when it comes to advertising, there’s definitely a lot more restrictions, so we are definitely still in the process of figuring out the best ways to market the product.”

CannaBrand has a variety of clientele, including e-commerce boutique head shop Inhale Mercantile. “They sell really high-end glass, stash jars, cannabis accessories, so anything really cannabis related, and vaporizers,” Mannix said. Other partners include a cannabis market research company, The Brightfield Group, and online medical marijuana platform MJ Wellness. “We also work with the actual dispensaries, so help the with their branding, and even design of their dispensary—the interior design aspect,” she said. “. . . So each different type of clients has a different way to market, because they have different products and then target markets, so people and demographics that they are trying to market to.”

To be in her line of work, Mannix has to also work tirelessly as an activist in the fight for legalization. “Cannabis as a plant, it’s a medicine and we just need to start treating it like that,” she said, noting that it’s restrictions like what she faced with the Neos commercial that makes it hard to legitimize cannabis.

Watch the pulled Neos ad here:

Marijuana Policy Project, Whole Foods Donate to Rand Paul’s 2016 Presidential Bid

Mid-year Federal Election Commission filings are in, and Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign has reportedly received a boost from atypical Republican primary donors like Marijuana Policy Project and Whole Foods. National Journal notes that Marijuana Policy Project PAC donated $5,000 to Rand Paul for America, another $5,000 to Paul’s Senate re-election campaign, and $4,500 to Rand Paul Victory … Continue reading Marijuana Policy Project, Whole Foods Donate to Rand Paul’s 2016 Presidential Bid

Recreational Marijuana to Become Legal in Oregon on Wednesday

On July 1, recreational marijuana becomes legal in Oregon as the personal cultivation and possession provisions of Measure 91, a state-wide voter-approved referendum that prevailed in November of 2014, take effect. The Oregonian notes that, starting on Wednesday, adults 21 and up will be allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home and up to 1 ounce while traveling. Home growers will be allowed to grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence.

According to The Oregonian’s Noelle Crombie, “Anyone 21 and older can possess up to 1 pound of solid edibles, or about 10 chocolate bars; 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid, or a six-pack of 12-ounce sodas; and 1 ounce of marijuana extract.

Smoking pot in public remains illegal in Oregon and is punished with a fine of up to $1000. Under the law, plants grown in a resident’s yard must not be visible to the naked eye from the street.

However, Measure 91 tasked the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Oregon Legislature with crafting rules for a legal recreational marijuana marketplace, which has not yet taken place, meaning the sale of recreational pot will not yet be legal when the personal cultivation and possession provisions take effect on Wednesday. In the above-embedded video, Noelle Crombie and fellow marijuana policy expert at The Oregonian Jeff Mapes discuss the particulars of legalization and the legislative hurdles facing growers and sellers in the state.

Portland NORML is raising awareness to the lack of a legal market for recreational pot in Oregon by giving away free marijuana as the clock strikes midnight on July 1. KFOR-TV cited a statement by Portland NORML which read, “While it becomes legal to possess and cultivate cannabis, there is no legal place in Oregon to buy marijuana itself or cannabis seeds and starts. Portland NORML will educate the public and our partners will give away thousands of seeds and hundreds of pounds of marijuana this year so Washington State and the black market do not benefit from our new marijuana legality.

As it stands, the state will begin taking applications for large-scale cultivation and sales operations in January of 2016. However, the recreational pot industry is unlikely to start in the state until fall of next year.

According to The Associated Press, the Oregon Legislature’s joint marijuana committee approved a proposal last week to allow the state’s over 300 approved medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling to recreational customers in October of 2015 as a temporary solution to buy time while lawmakers craft rules for a legal pot marketplace.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode highlighting the federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.