Tag Archives: marijuana legalization

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Neighboring States’ Suit Against Colorado Pot Legalization

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear a lawsuit filed by the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma that claims that Colorado’s recreational pot law violates federal law and enables the trafficking of marijuana across their borders.

The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 states in 2014,” Nebraska and Oklahoma’s attorneys argued according to The New York Times. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.

[RELATED: GOP-led Pa. House Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana]

A brief filed by Colorado’s attorneys read, “Nebraska and Oklahoma concede that Colorado has power to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana — a substance that for decades has seen enormous demand and has, until recently, been supplied exclusively through a multi-billion-dollar black market. Yet the plaintiff states seek to strike down the laws and regulations that are designed to channel demand away from this black market and into a licensed and closely monitored retail system.

The court did not explain why it will not hear the case, but Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented from the majority along with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote in his opinion cited by The Denver Post, “The complaint, on its face, presents a ‘controvers[y] between two or more States’ that this Court alone has authority to adjudicate. The plaintiff States have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another State. Whatever the merit of the plaintiff States’ claims, we should let this complaint proceed further rather than denying leave without so much as a word of explanation.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement, “Today, the Supreme Court has not held that Colorado’s unconstitutional facilitation of marijuana industrialization is legal, and the Court’s decision does not bar additional challenges to Colorado’s scheme in federal district court.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman applauded the decision and said, “Although we’ve had victories in several federal lawsuits over the last month, the legal questions surrounding [Colorado’s recreational pot legalization] Amendment 64 still require stronger leadership from Washington.

Leading up to the decision, Obama administration attorneys had urged the court not to hear the case, whereas a group of former Drug Enforcement Administration officials had argued in favor of Nebraska and Oklahoma’s assertions.

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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 was partially influenced by the likelihood that Vermont will legalize marijuana in the near future, which would lead to the possibility that re-training police dogs to cease detecting marijuana would exhaust additional time and resources.

Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos explained that if Vermont legalizes marijuana, “All local and state dogs would need to be replaced at significant cost to the state police and to municipalities that would have to get new dogs that were not trained to alert for marijuana.”

Robert Ryan, the K-9 training coordinator in Vermont, noted that “if for some reason it doesn’t become legalized, it’s an odor that (dogs) can be trained to alert on later.”

Dogs currently trained to detect marijuana would still be used in the state for regulatory purposes such as searches at high schools and prisons, and also for police work at the federal level.

Vermont’s legalization bill continued to move forward on Friday, as the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill 6-1.

The bill, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeanette K. White, would legalize the possession of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21, and implement a “controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores,” according to MyChamplainValley.com.

The Burlington Free Press reported that the Finance Committee decided to propose a 25 per cent tax for marijuana, and changed the original proposed legal amount of possession from one ounce to a half-ounce.

The Times Argus reported that the state Senate may vote on the bill as soon as next week.

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Opposes Legal Cannabis, Cites Heroin Epidemic

Democratic National Committee chair and U.S. Congresswoman from Florida Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on Wednesday that she opposes legalizing marijuana.

In an interview with The New York Times, Wasserman Schultz said that she does not oppose medical marijuana, but added, “I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs. We have had a resurgence of drug use instead of a decline. There is a huge heroin epidemic.

New York Times reporter Ana Marie Cox then pressed the DNC chair on the connection between legally-prescribed opiate painkillers and heroin abuse, prompting Wasserman Schultz to reply, “There is a difference between opiates and marijuana.

[RELATED: O’Malley Says Debates Are ‘Rigged’ For Hillary, Gets Hit With DEATH STARE From DNC Chair]

Speaking on the origins of her anti-pot views, Wasserman Schultz said, “They’re formed by my personal experience both as a mom and as someone who grew up really bothered by the drug culture that surrounded my childhood — not mine personally. I grew up in suburbia.

According to The Intercept, beer, wine, and liquor industry companies are the fifth-leading donor group funding her congressional reelection effort. Contributors include the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Bacardi USA, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and Southern Wine and Spirits.

[RELATED: Truth In Media Accelerates National Cannabis Discussion]

Wasserman Schultz also said that her record on criminal justice reform is “not as progressive as some of my fellow progressives.

Philosophically, she described her approach to public service as an effort to protect citizens from themselves. “I guess I’m protective. Safety has been my top legislative priority. I’m driven by the idea that safety is really a core function of government,” she said. “I don’t think we should just let things happen to people and let them be stupid and the victims of the consequences of their actions. I think we can put enough obstacles in the path of poor decision-making.

Colo. Prosecutors Complain Juries Are Refusing to Convict Pot-Influenced Drivers

Prosecutors in pot-legal Colorado are expressing frustrations that they are having a tough time finding juries willing to convict some suspects who have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

According to CBS Denver, Colorado District Attorneys’ Council head Tom Raynes said that juries are in some cases refusing to convict individuals who have been found driving with levels of pot in their system exceeding the 5 ng/ml THC legal limit.

You are putting lives in danger. I want the message to be understood. It’s about driving while under the influence of drugs — it’s not about recreational or medical, it’s about being impaired when you drive,” he said. “I don’t believe anyone can drive better under the influence of any substance.

[RELATED: Ron Paul Calls for Jury to Nullify Cannabis Oil Mom Shona Banda’s Criminal Charges]

CBS Denver pointed to the case of medical marijuana patient Melanie Brinegar as an example. Brinegar was charged with driving under the influence of pot during a June traffic stop over an expired license plate. Though she admitted to having used marijuana and was found over the legal limit, officers did not witness her driving erratically.

Brinegar claimed that marijuana use improves her ability to drive and that she was neither high nor impaired. She was acquitted by a jury of her peers.

[RELATED: Indiana County Introduces Marijuana Goggles to Curb Teen Use]

The Free Thought Project characterized the jury’s refusal to convict as “jury nullification.” However, it appears that a component of the law allows juries to find defendants not guilty even if they are above the legal limit.

Brad Wood, a foreman on the jury that acquitted Brinegar, said, “The law allows you to infer that the person was impaired if they have over 5 ng/ml. But you may also feel free not to infer that and in any case use all the evidence to make your judgement… If the law says we strongly encourage you to weigh this as the biggest factor, I think it would have been a whole different story… If the officer said, ‘We saw her weave,’ it probably would have been a different story.

Wood referred to the law as poorly written and said that the jury believed Brinegar’s claim that marijuana does not impair her driving.

[Activist Charged with Jury Tampering for Promoting Jury Nullification Outside Courthouse]

During the trial, Brinegar’s attorney Colin McCallin argued that the pot driving impairment law differs from driving under the influence of alcohol laws that require juries to convict simply on the basis of the suspect’s blood alcohol content. McCallin said that this argument might not work in other incidences in which an individual has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

Are we sending a message it’s okay to smoke and drive? I don’t like that message. In [Brinegar’s] case maybe its fine,” Wood said.

Pot Advocacy Group Alleges Death Threats Issued by Drug Cartel

The marijuana legalization advocacy group ResponsibleOhio has been reportedly threatened, stalked, and victimized by thefts and cyber attacks at the hands of a local drug cartel.

According to Fox 19, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Secret Service have investigated the threats and are taking them seriously. One suspect, who allegedly stole $200,000 from the organization’s bank account before being caught by law enforcement attempting to steal an additional $300,000, is in custody.

ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James said, “Law enforcement was pretty clear that this was a pretty heavy duty drug dealer. The fact that he was also an arms dealer gave them great pause and indicated that we should be concerned.” Officers reportedly found a photograph of Ian James’ husband standing outside a building in Cleveland on the suspect.

[RELATED: Ohio Recreational Pot Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Nov. 2015 Ballot]

In the above-embedded WCPO video, sports agent and ResponsibleOhio co-founder James Gould describes chilling recorded death threats that he allegedly received via “burner” cell phones from members of a drug cartel.

Why are you doing this? We’re going to f*** you up,” said the recorded voice on three different occasions over three weeks, according to Gould. He says that the group was also targeted by a cyber attack at a crucial point in its signature gathering process.

WCPO notes that according to campaign finance records, ResponsibleOhio subsequently spent $165,368 hiring the private security firm Carrol & Associates LLC to provide protection and investigate the threats.

It was scary,” said Gould.

[RELATED: Truth In Media Accelerates National Cannabis Discussion]

ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization ballot measure Issue 3 will appear on Ohio’s general election ballot on November 3. The measure would create a framework for a legal recreational and medical marijuana industry in the state. Critics say the measure would establish a marijuana cultivation oligopoly, as it would constitutionally restrict pot production to 10 farms owned by ResponsibleOhio investors.

Roger Stone Claims He Fired John Kasich from ’76 Reagan Campaign for Selling Pot

At Wednesday night’s CNBC Republican presidential debate, Ohio Governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate John Kasich answered a question on marijuana legalization by saying, “Sending kids mixed signals about drugs is a disaster.” Following Kasich’s comment, former Donald Trump campaign adviser and Republican strategist Roger Stone issued a tweet calling the answer hypocritical and claiming that he once fired Kasich from Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign for selling marijuana to field reps.

https://twitter.com/RogerJStoneJr/status/659546046771519488

Kasich’s campaign denied Stone’s claim and told reporters to check with political consultant Charlie Black, who also reportedly worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1976 campaign. Charlie Black told Cleveland.com that he had been Kasich’s supervisor in ’76, rather than Stone, and said Kasich “was very diligent” while campaigning for Reagan.

This is the first time I ever heard anyone mention drugs in connection with John Kasich. He was not fired. He certainly was not fired for drugs,” said Black.

[RELATED: Ohio Recreational Pot Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Nov. 2015 Ballot]

Kasich reportedly responded to the claim himself in comments to BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray and said, “Look, it’s Roger Stone. He’s nuts.

Roger Stone issued another tweet on Thursday morning, seen below, responding to Black’s denial of his claim.

https://twitter.com/RogerJStoneJr/status/659749151018586112

Stone, who has worked in high-level positions on several Republican presidential campaigns and who has been referred to as a “legendary political hitman” according to his own website, has a history of making statements that spark controversy.

[RELATED: Geraldo Threatens to Fight Trump Adviser Over Racial Tweets]

Governor Kasich, whose state of Ohio is currently considering a referendum that would legalize marijuana for recreational use, is a vocal opponent of pot legalization. MLive.com notes that he called legalization a “terrible idea” and said of the ballot initiative, “So some drugs are okay but others aren’t? We’ve got kids. Why don’t we just say don’t do drugs, period.

For more election coverage, click here.

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 state collected about $70 million in taxes from marijuana sales, and only about $42 million in taxes from alcohol sales.

The Marijuana Policy Project noted that out of the $69,898,059 raised on taxes on marijuana-related sales, $43,938,721 came from a “10% special sales tax on retail marijuana sales to adults” and $25,959,338 came from a “15% excise tax on wholesale transfers of marijuana intended for adult use.”

KDRV reported that Colorado is having a “marijuana tax holiday” on Wednesday, which will suspend all taxes on marijuana-related sales.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project and a co-director of the 2012 initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Colorado, released a statement saying that marijuana taxes have been “incredibly productive over the past year,” and Wednesday’s holiday will be a “much-deserved day off.”

“It’s crazy how much revenue our state used to flush down the drain by forcing marijuana sales into the underground market,” Tvert said. “It’s even crazier that so many states are still doing it. Tax revenue is just one of many good reasons to replace marijuana prohibition with a system of regulation.”

[RELATED: ‘Gas and Grass’ Cannabis Dispensary Gas Stations Coming Soon To Colorado]

The Associated Press reported that the holiday is due to Colorado’s “unusual tax law,” and is a rare move in a state that “has many times rejected sales-tax holidays on things like school supplies, clothing or energy-efficient appliances.”

The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “requires voters to approve new taxes based on estimates of collections and state spending.”

The Denver Post noted that although the tax revenues from marijuana sales have not exceeded projected figures, “total state spending exceeded initial estimates because of the improving economy,” and as a result, lawmakers settled on a one-day tax waiver.

[RELATED: Truth In Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent To Cannabis As Medicine]

In Sept. 2014, investigative journalist Ben Swann looked into the federal government’s involvement with marijuana used for medicinal purposes, and he found that although the government acts as if cannabis is not medicine, they actually own the patent to cannabis as medicine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuX9y0hiqWE

ResponsibleOhio to File Suit over “Biased” Wording of Pot Legalization Ballot Measure

ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Ohio’s recently-qualified ballot measure aimed at letting the state’s voters decide whether to legalize marijuana for personal use, has announced that it will challenge the Ohio Ballot Board’s chosen legal wording of the group’s proposed constitutional amendment. The group plans to take the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The above-embedded video, published by OhioCapitalBlog, contains comments by ResponsibleOhio spokesperson Jennifer Redman and attorney Don McTigue on the group’s planned legal challenge against what it called “biased” wording meant to discourage voters from supporting the amendment.

The Ohio Ballot Board, which is chaired by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, features 5 members including 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. According to The Plain Dealer, the wording of ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment passed the board by a party-line vote of 3-2.

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), a board member who voted against the wording, told WLWT-TV that the board’s choice to characterize the type of marijuana use that would be legalized by the ballot measure as “recreational” rather than “personal” “crosses into editorializing about the amendment.

The board’s wording has also been criticized as giving the impression that it would allow Ohioans to possess and transfer over a half-pound of marijuana, despite the fact that the proposed amendment would only allow possession of up to 1 ounce. However, licensed home growers would be allowed to cultivate up to 8 ounces for personal use.

The Ohio Ballot Board also chose the order of the ballot measures on the upcoming November 3, 2015 general election ballot and opted to place the pro-pot issue question in the third position out of three, following an anti-monopoly-and-oligopoly amendment meant to counter and draw attention to a controversial aspect of the Ohio pro-pot ballot measure — that it only allows marijuana to be cultivated on 10 farms owned by ResponsibleOhio investors, potentially creating a marijuana production oligopoly.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice and ResponsibleOhio attorney Andy Douglas said in a statement, “When the Ballot Board prescribes language to ballot initiatives, it is meant to be a neutral, fair representation of the proposal at hand. The ballot language assigned to the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, Issue 3, is clearly biased and gives preference to the arguments of marijuana reform opponents. The language is inaccurate and strategically worded as to misguide voters.

ResponsibleOhio claims that opponents of the measure on the board chose the word “recreational,” which tests poorly in opinion polls, rather than the phrase “personal use” in the amendment in an effort to discourage voters from supporting it.

You buy alcohol you’re going to personally consume it, it’s not recreational, you buy toothpaste, you’re going to personally use it, you’re not using it for recreation, the same applies to marijuana,” said ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James.

Sec. of State Husted, who claims that “recreational” was the correct word choice because it clarifies that the measure goes beyond just legalizing medical marijuana, said, “In the end, I think the voters in Ohio are going to clearly know what they’re voting for. They are either going to vote to legalize a marijuana monopoly in this state or they’re going to vote to reject it.

In the below-embedded video by OhioCapitalBlog, Husted reacts to ResponsibleOhio’s complaints about the issue question’s wording.

If both the anti-monopoly ballot measure and ResponsibleOhio’s ballot measure were to pass by a majority vote, thus contradicting each other, the amendment that obtains the highest total of votes would take priority over the other. However, the anti-monopoly measure is set to kick in 30 days prior to the pro-pot measure, which Sec. of State Husted said could prove to be a legal roadblock to the marijuana legalization amendment’s enactment.

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

https://youtu.be/zuX9y0hiqWE

Ohio Recreational Pot Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Nov. 2015 Ballot

Ohio voters will decide on this November’s ballot whether the state will legalize marijuana for recreational and medical uses.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted confirmed on Wednesday that the pro-pot group ResponsibleOhio has successfully obtained 320,267 valid signatures of voters in a petition drive qualifying a marijuana legalization ballot initiative for the state’s November 3, 2015 general election.

It’s time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November — we couldn’t be more excited. Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens. By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities,” read a statement by ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James. The group reportedly spent over $2 million since March of this year promoting its signature gathering campaign and still has over $20 million in its war chest to spend on promoting November’s initiative.

If the amendment were to pass, it would legalize the recreational use and possession of up to one ounce of pot for individuals of 21 years of age or older. Medical marijuana would become available to patients with a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, those who obtain a cultivation license would be able to grow up to four marijuana plants at home for their own personal use. Marijuana production would be taxed at 15 percent and sales to consumers at 5 percent. 15 percent of tax revenues would go to fund a new regulatory authority called the Marijuana Control Commission. Remaining revenues would be split by Ohio towns, cities, and counties.

The amendment would create criminal laws cracking down on marijuana sales to minors, the employment of minors at marijuana businesses, pot-intoxicated drivers, and public cannabis consumption.

Though the amendment would not impact existing marijuana convictions, if it passes, ResponsibleOhio plans to push for a 2016 ballot initiative called the Fresh Start Act that would create a process for expunging thus-outdated pot convictions.

The Plain Dealer notes that the amendment would constitutionally restrict commercial cultivation to 10 specific farms owned by ResponsibleOhio investors, which critics have said creates a “monopoly.” Those who stand to profit on those farms include former 98 Degrees performer Nick Lachey, fashion designer Nanette Lapore, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker, and Woody and Dudley Taft Jr., both of whom are descendants of former President William Howard Taft.

In June, the Ohio Legislature placed an initiative on the November 2015 ballot that would ban the creation of a “monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel” from the Ohio Constitution. Sec. Husted said that he believes that the anti-monopoly amendment would override the marijuana legalization amendment if both were to pass, a legal theory which ResponsibleOhio representatives contest. If that were to be the outcome of the election, a court battle would likely ensue.

Former Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, a ResponsibleOhio supporter, said, “When I served as the Chief of Police for Ohio’s third-largest city, I saw first-hand the destructive impact of Ohio’s marijuana laws. Our state spends over $120 million per year to enforce marijuana prohibition, even though we all know these laws do not work. Law enforcement should instead be able to spend their time and their resources cracking down on the real criminals. ResponsibleOhio’s amendment will do just that, paving the way for a better, safer future for our children and grandchildren.

Republican State Representative Niraj Antani, an opponent of the pot legalization amendment, told WDTN-TV, “Even if you do favor it, this is a bad deal. This is ten or fifteen individuals all investing into a scheme to make a lot of money. This isn’t how we should create industries in Ohio. It’s going to be put into the constitution which should be done very carefully. I think it’s a bad deal for all Ohioans.

Ohio Governor and 2016 presidential candidate John Kasich opposes the measure.

A July Quinnipiac University poll found that 52 percent of Ohioans supported marijuana legalization and 44 percent expressed their opposition.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuX9y0hiqWE

Rand Paul Makes History As First Major-Party POTUS Candidate to Seek Pot Industry Donors

On June 30, US Senator and Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul attended the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO and held his own private, $2,700-per-ticket fundraiser. An invitation to the fundraiser, which was originally obtained by Yahoo News, can be seen below.

RandPaulDonations

As The Associated Press points out, Rand Paul’s pot industry fundraiser marks the first time in US history that a major-party presidential candidate has attempted to openly seek campaign cash from America’s new legal marijuana industry. Around 40 marijuana business leaders met with Paul at the event.

This is a historical moment, that our industry is now working together with a presidential candidate,” said attendee Tripp Keber, owner of Dixie Elixirs.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert told The Associated Press, “It really speaks to how important this issue is and how far it’s come… We’re seeing officials at the local, state and now federal level recognize this is now a legitimate industry, just like any other legal industry in many facets.

The Denver Post notes that the National Cannabis Industry Association donated $5,000 to Paul, marking the organization’s first-ever donation to a presidential campaign. “We are simply showing support for Senator Paul because he has shown support for us,” said NCIA deputy director Taylor West.

In March, Senator Paul teamed up with Democratic Senators Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing a bipartisan bill, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, to end the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and scientific cannabis research. Senators Booker and Paul have also recently joined forces in a push to reform the federal criminal justice system’s treatment of non-violent drug offenders. Paul has also indicated that he supports changing federal laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to use banking services.

According to The Associated Press, former New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson held a fundraiser for the Drug Policy Alliance while he was still vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. However, marijuana legalization was still in its infancy at that time, meaning there was no significant marijuana industry from which to seek donations.

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

https://youtu.be/zuX9y0hiqWE

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Alaska Becomes Third State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Recreational marijuana in Alaska became legal on Tuesday following the November 2014 passage of Ballot Measure 2, a voter initiative approving recreational adult use. Ballot Measure 2 was approved by about 52% of voters. Alaska is now the third state to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington.

Regulations are still being drafted detailing the sale and taxation of marijuana. Individuals 21 years of age or older may possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can grow up to six plants. Only three of those plants would be allowed to be flowering. Smoking it in public is illegal, as is driving under the influence.

While private exchanges of marijuana are allowed, money is not allowed to be involved in the exchanges. “You can still give people marijuana, but you can’t buy it — or even barter for it,” said Alexandra Gutierrez of Alaska Public Media.

Business license applications for marijuana will be accepted beginning in February 2016. Gutierrez said that stores are expected to be licensed and operational sometime next year.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker introduced a bill on Monday to establish a new Marijuana Control Board that would be in charge of marijuana regulation and grant authority to enforce the laws. “Importantly, the bill would give the Marijuana Control Board the power to enforce its regulations, including the ability to use peace officer powers to enforce the criminally punishable laws and regulations relating to marijuana,” Walker explained.

The Marijuana Policy Project announced a plan to place bus ads in Anchorage advocating for responsible marijuana use now that recreational marijuana is legal. “With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility,” the ad reads. The advertising points to consumeresponsibly.org, which provides information regarding legalization. The site also cautions people to use marijuana responsibly: users are advised to refrain from driving after smoking or consuming, to keep marijuana away from children and pets, and to respect aversions that others may have in the presence of marijuana.

The Anchorage Police Department has urged marijuana users to be aware of the laws and regulations already in place with a “Know Your Grow” section of their website. “Ultimately the concern of the police department is the safety and health of our public,” Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said. “We want to make sure that people are not operating their vehicle impaired or under the influence of marijuana.”

AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Opposes Legal Pot, Ducks Question on Drone Strikes on US Soil

On January 28, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a part of her confirmation hearing. She has been tapped by President Obama to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Though the Republican-controlled Senate has the power to confirm or deny her nomination, senators typically show extraordinary leniency in approving presidential appointees. Politico notes that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has threatened to block her nomination, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will go forward with the vote to confirm Lynch. During her testimony, she gave answers that seemed to contradict the Obama administration’s positions on marijuana legalization and also dodged a question on whether the president has the power to carry out a lethal drone strike on American soil against a US citizen that poses no imminent threat.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who is set to step down as soon as his replacement has been confirmed by the Senate, has taken a decidedly hands-off approach to enforcing marijuana prohibition on states that have taken steps to legalize it for recreational or medical use. NPR notes that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch if she shares President Obama’s views on marijuana, characterizing his position with a quote from the President in which he said to the The New Yorker, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Lynch, a prosecutor, took a hardcore prohibitionist’s stance in contrast with President Obama and Eric Holder, signaling that she might crack down on pot as attorney general. Said Lynch, “Well, Senator, I certainly don’t hold that view, and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share.” She continued, “Not only do I not support legalization of marijuana — it is not the position of the Department of Justice, currently, to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.” According to The Los Angeles Times, she said, “I will continue to enforce the marijuana laws, particularly with respect to the money-laundering aspect to it.”

Breitbart highlighted an exchange that took place between Senator Ted Cruz and Loretta Lynch in which the two clashed over the use of drone strikes on US soil against American citizens. Said Cruz, “In your legal judgment, is it constitutional for the federal government to utilize a drone strike against an American citizen on US soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat?”

Despite the fact that Cruz qualified the question by pointing out the fact that the hypothetical drone strike target does not pose an imminent threat, Lynch replied that she would need more information to determine whether the use of lethal force would be constitutional. Said Lynch, “Well, Senator, I think with respect to the use of lethal force by any means one would always want to look at the law enforcement issues involved there, and, certainly, if you could provide more context there, I could place it in the scope of either a case or an issue that I might have familiarity with.”

After Senator Cruz made several failed attempts to get Lynch’s legal opinion on lethal drone strikes on US soil by rephrasing his question, he said, “I am disappointed that, like Attorney General Holder, you are declining to give a simple, straight-forward answer and, in fact, what I think is the obvious answer of no — the federal government can not use lethal force from a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil if that individual doesn’t pose an imminent threat. I don’t view that as a difficult legal question.”

On the subject of marijuana legalization, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode last September which took on the federal government’s mixed messages on cannabis prohibition. Watch it in the embedded player below.

Judge Rules WA Law Banning Medical Marijuana Ads Unconstitutional

“I find the statute impermissibly overbroad as it chills even informational speech aimed solely at public education,” said Pierce County, WA Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Martin in a written decision explaining why she ruled a Washington state law banning medical marijuana advertisements unconstitutional. According to Courthouse News Service, the law in question banned doctors from making “any statement or reference, visual or otherwise, on the medical use of marijuana in any advertisement.”

The Yakima Herald-Republic notes that the decision came in response to a suit against the state filed on behalf of Dr. Scott Havsy, a local doctor and osteopath who was punished by the state for producing advertisements that pointed out some of the ailments that qualify an individual to seek treatment via medical marijuana and that included an image of a marijuana leaf. Back in July of 2012, Washington’s Department of Health slapped Dr. Havsy with an unprofessional conduct charge for which he was fined, barred from continuing to run his advertisements, and placed on probation.

Havsy argued through legal representation that his advertising content is protected commercial speech and that the ban unduly burdened patients seeking treatment, as they could not discover through advertising which doctors offer medical marijuana prescriptions. The Yakima Herald-Republic quoted Havsy’s lawyer Mark Olson as arguing, “The only restrictions that should be placed on professional advertising are to be sure the advertising is not false or misleading. Other than that, when the government restricts advertising by professionals, it places a chilling effect on the free flow of information, especially on the Internet.”

Assistant Attorney General Joyce Roper represented the state and argued that the First Amendment does not protect advertisements concerning illegal products. Though marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in Washington, it is still subject to a federal ban.

Judge Martin disagreed with both attorneys’ contention that Havsy’s speech was merely commercial in nature, but said that it may instead be in the public’s interest, noting that many of the statements in his advertisements came from state-run websites. “It is difficult to understand, for example, how a link to the state’s own website and a recitation of the language of Chapter 59.51A on medical marijuana harms public health and safety,” said Martin according to Courthouse News Service, noting that some of the content in Havsy’s ads helped spread health information recognized by the state.

“I find that the restriction set forth in the statute at issue is far more extensive than necessary as it bars any advertisement in any form, regardless of the message, format, context, etc… The result of this statute is that the public cannot be informed by any health care provider, including Dr. Havsy, as to whether that provider is even available or willing to perform the required medical exam for the certificate of use,” said Judge Martin. She was also troubled by the fact that “even a published statement by a health care provider, purely neutral and informational in nature, potentially violates the blanket prohibitions of this statute.”

Judge Martin said that, while the state can not ban medical pot ads outright, it does have an interest in regulating them to ensure that they do not make false or misleading statements. She wrote, “I do not take lightly the import of this decision and expect that this ruling will not be the final word on the subject.” Judge Martin granted a stay on the penalties placed on Dr. Havsy.

Ben Swann took on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana in a recent Truth in Media expose. Watch in the embedded player, found below.

Fine Print in Congressional Budget Deal Set to Overturn DC’s Marijuana Legalization Referendum

In November, a strong majority of voters in Washington DC approved a referendum that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, federal lawmakers, in a rush to find consensus on a budget in an effort to avoid a government shutdown, may have just taken the first steps to override the will of DC voters on that issue. According to The Washington Post, the Republican House and Democratic Senate have reached an agreement on a $1.1 trillion budget to fund the government until next September, and it includes among its 1600 pages a provision that would de-fund the implementation of DC’s marijuana legalization referendum.

While local officials run most of the day-to-day business of government in Washington DC, Congress retains the authority to overrule their decisions. A summary of provisions in the newly agreed-upon spending bill, published by the House Appropriations Committee and cited by Christian Science Monitor, notes that the bill “prohibits both federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.” However, the legislation sends mixed messages in that it would also order the Drug Enforcement Administration to stop busting farmers for hemp in states that have legalized it and require the Department of Justice to take a hands-off approach to states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Voters, elected officials, and activists in the nation’s capital are outraged at the notion that a referendum approved by voters would be overturned by federal lawmakers. DC’s non-voting congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton bashed Democrats for supporting the provision overturning her city’s marijuana legalization referendum, saying, in comments to The Washington Post, “I certainly don’t know why Democrats would agree to block legalization while we still control the White House, we still control the Senate — and who knows, they may even need Democratic votes to pass this.”

DC Councilman David Grosso said, taking a shot at the GOP-led house, “It is disheartening and frustrating to learn that once again the District of Columbia is being used as a political pawn by the Congress… 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 Huffington Post quoted Maryland Republican Congressman Andy Harris, a supporter of the provision, as saying, “I am glad Congress is going to, in a bipartisan way, uphold federal law to protect our youth by preventing legalization in Washington, DC.”

Adam Eidinger, a DC-area pro-legalization activist who gathered signatures for the referendum, told The Washington Post, “I’m ready for some civil disobedience. If you’re going to overturn an election, you might as well say something before it’s done.” Eidinger says that local activists are organizing a protest march on Wednesday night that will run from the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice building to Capitol Hill and that some attendees may be willing to face arrest.

The budget bill, which was revealed last night, is expected to pass before the end of the week. Though President Obama has yet to signal whether or not he will sign the legislation, McClatchy DC notes that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest praised the bill on the President’s behalf.

On the subject of the federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana, Ben Swann released a report in September on the fact that the federal government refuses to classify cannabis as medicine while at the same time holding the patent on cannabis as medicine.

Watch the video below:

Radio Host Presents Massachusetts Gov.-Elect With “Beer vs. Joint” Challenge

WEMF radio host and marijuana legalization advocate Mike Crawford challenged Massachusetts’ Republican governor-elect Charlie Baker to a marijuana vs. alcohol contest on his radio show, The Young Jurks, over the weekend in an endeavor to prove that the effects of marijuana are less dangerous than those of alcohol. Crawford said he would smoke one joint for each beer consumed by Baker.

Baker criticized recreational marijuana after winning November’s gubernatorial election and vowed to “vigorously oppose” its legalization. “There’s a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it’s just plain bad,” Baker told MassLive.

Massachusetts voters have approved both the decriminalization of marijuana and medical marijuana legislation. No medical marijuana dispensaries in the state have been opened yet.

On his radio program and in the above video, Crawford (also called Mike Cann) said he was inspired by Maine’s Marijuana Policy Project Political Director David Boyer. Boyer, an activist working for recreational marijuana legalization in Maine, challenged South Portland’s police chief Edward Googins to a liquor vs. marijuana contest in October before the two participated in a marijuana legalization debate ahead of November’s elections. Boyer offered to take a hit of marijuana for each shot of alcohol consumed by Googins. Googins did not accept the challenge.

“I’m looking at the Mayor- the new Governor, excuse me- and I’m challenging him for a thousand dollars,” said Crawford. He said the $1,000 would be donated to charity; if Baker were to win, he would be able to donate to the charity of his choice. If Crawford were to win, he would split the winnings among MassCann/NORML and the Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance.

“I’ll go joint for beer. Let’s see who wins? Let’s see who’s standing. Let’s see who works on Monday. We’ll do it on a Sunday, on our day off, let’s see who walks away feeling the best,” said Crawford.

According to the Bay State Examiner, Crawford’s co-host Frank Capone confirmed that Baker was directly contacted by Crawford about the challenge, and Baker has yet to accept or decline.

UN Official Accuses US States of Violating International Law By Legalizing Pot

In the United States, decades-old marijuana prohibition laws are crumbling, state-by-state and city-by-city. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Voters in the nation’s capital, Washington DC, recently approved a referendum legalizing recreational cannabis. 23 US states now allow patients to seek treatment with medical marijuana. With polls showing that a majority of Americans approve of pot legalization, it is clear that the issue has hit a tipping point.

However, officials at the United Nations are none too pleased with the US for allowing states to reverse course on pot prohibition. According to Reuters, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director Yury Fedotov denounced recent legalization efforts in Oregon and Alaska in comments to reporters on Wednesday. Said Fedetov, “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions.” The International Narcotics Control Board, an organization which enforces UN anti-drug conventions, has previously criticized Uruguay for legalizing marijuana in 2013.

Fedetov expressed his concerns that the recent electoral outcomes in Alaska and Oregon represent a growing trend towards legalization. When reporters asked him what the UNODC intends to do about American states’ alleged violations of international drug conventions, he indicated that he would confront the issue next week in meetings with various UN bureaucracies and the US State Department. State Department official William Brownfield recently called on the UN to take a more flexible approach in dealing with nations that are overturning pot prohibition laws.

Last February, Evan Mulch at BenSwann.com reported on how the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 made US enforcement of marijuana prohibition a matter of international law, though international laws in general are tough to enforce on a superpower like the United States. The Obama administration originally fought against state-level marijuana legalization movements, but that policy was inevitably reversed, and administration officials are now beginning to let states set their own policies when it comes to cannabis prohibition.

This spat between the US and the UN shows the challenges that activists face when working to repeal laws that have been codified at multiple levels of government. When the sovereignties of local, state, and national governments are threatened by the decisions of un-elected officials at international treaty organizations, the voices of voters are effectively silenced.

On a related subject, Ben Swann’s latest Truth in Media episode, seen below, deals with the federal government’s own hypocritical approach to medical marijuana, as it claims that cannabis is not medicine yet holds a patent on medical cannabis.

Midterm Elections Determine Marijuana Legalization in Several States

Among the issues decided by the ballots cast in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters are determining the fate of marijuana legalization for recreational use in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of Maine, and for medical use in Florida.

Yahoo News reported that ballot measures in Oregon and Alaska “would set up a network of regulated pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington State after twin landmark votes in 2012,” and that a measure in the District of Columbia “would allow possession but not retail sales.”

According to NBC News, “Most Americans support plans to legalize marijuana in theory,” and Tuesday’s election will show “a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington.

The Communication Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, said that his group, which is working to increase marijuana legalization among states in 2016, has high hopes for the midterm elections.

Win or lose, we expect to see more support and more dialogue about the issue than ever,” Tvert said.

According to Yahoo News, polls in Oregon “have shown a narrow majority favoring legal pot,” and polls in Alaska, “a Republican-leaning state with a libertarian streak,” have been inconsistent.

The Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said that he is not worried about the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon.

If we lose in Oregon, it will shift the national frame a little bit. But it doesn’t change the strategy and it doesn’t change the tactics,” said Nadelmann. “A generation from now people will still step back and look at the prohibition of marijuana and say, what the heck was that about?”

Despite the narrow polls, Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Alaska’s campaign for legalization, is confident.

We’re going to win,” said Williams. “It’s been a true grass roots campaign, pun intended, a true bipartisan, door to door effort, and our own polls show us 10 points ahead.

Yahoo News reported that the measure D.C., which would “allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants,” has been favored by a two-to-one margin.

Maine is following Washington D.C. in adding semi-legalization to the ballot. According to the Sun Herald, voters in the cities of South Portland and Lewiston “will vote on ballot initiatives that would legalize possession of marijuana.”

Tuesday’s elections will also determine whether Florida becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

TIME reported that the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana “has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right,” and has been “an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race.”

According to NBC News, although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, advocates argue that legalization is a “common sense policy,” due to the fact that it would “raise tax revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, and undercut Mexico’s violent drug cartels.

Live coverage of the Elections will be provided on the homepage of Benswann.com, beginning at 4:00 pm edt.

State of Washington becomes second state to sell recreational marijuana legally

After being voted through by citizens almost two years ago, the state of Washington has become the second state in the U.S. to sell marijuana legally and without a doctor’s note.

Some shops opened on Monday while many shops opened for the first time this morning.  Some shops today had lines of customers waiting in anticipation to enjoy marijuana legally.  Some customers drove as far as from Kansas to wait in line, according to ABC13.

Deb Green is a 65-year-old Washington resident who voted for legalization two years ago, and was one of those who waited in line.  “I voted for it,” Green tells Oregon Live.  “I’m not a heavy user; I’m just proud of our state for giving this a try.”

Prices for legal marijuana are expected to start off around $25 a gram, and this price is double what people would pay at medical dispensaries.  The reason for the relatively high prices is the state of Washington’s medical system is unregulated, meaning there were not many people legally producing marijuana in the first place for medical dispensaries.

Washington has approved less than 100 legal growers to help kick start the marijuana market, but this is far less than the 2,600 people who applied for licenses to grow marijuana.  This has created an initial shortage of marijuana throughout the state, but as more growers receive their licenses, the laws of supply and demand say prices should fall.

Sales are also restricted in Washington, according to FOX News.  Shops can only sell to adults over the age of 21, and selling amounts are specific as well.

Customers can buy one ounce of dried marijuana, one pound of marijuana-infused solids like foods, four pounds of marijuana-infused liquids, or seven grams of concentrated marijuana at one time.

DEA continues obstructing marijuana research, report says

A new report released by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, says the DEA has spent the last four decades thwarting marijuana research which carries the potential of reclassification for the drug.

“The DEA has argued for decades that there is insufficient evidence to support rescheduling marijuana,” reads the executive summary of the report.  “At the same time, it has… acted in a manner intended to systematically impede scientific research.”

Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning the federal government does not recognize any acceptable uses for the drug, including medicinal uses.  The status of Schedule I also means the drugs in this category cannot receive federal funding for research, medicinal or otherwise.  Marijuana is joined on the Schedule I tier by peyote, LSD, and heroine.

“This concerns me greatly as someone who has studied marijuana and given thousands of doses of the drug,” says Professor Carl Hart of the department of psychology and psychiatry from Columbia University.

Professor Hart continues saying, “The notion that the DEA has not thought about reconsidering scheduling of marijuana seems to be against scientific evidence and what we’re trying to do as a society that relies on imperial evidence to make decisions.”

The report also states the DEA has been forced by several court orders to release a decision on the reclassification of marijuana.  Two of these times, multiple lawsuits were brought forth against the DEA to act instead of simply sitting on their hands for years.

This report is released a few weeks after the House of Representatives approved of three amendments focused on restricting the DEA’s grasp on marijuana and hemp laws.  Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California was one sponsor of the amendments.

“Nobody should be afraid of the truth,” says Rohrabacher.  “Is the downside of marijuana a harmful side effect? Or is there a positive side that actually does help? That needs to be proven.”

A few studies have already shown marijuana has many potential medical uses, including slowing or stopping the spread and growth of cancerous cells, including leukemia.

Dr. Wai Liu from St. George’s University of London told the Huffington Post, “Cannabinoids have a complex action; it hits a number of important processes that cancers need to survive.”

The growing support for the legalization of marijuana has seen 22 states and the District of Columbia legalize medicinal use of marijuana, and Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of the drug.

Is President Obama Bullied By The United Nations To Not Decriminalize Marijuana?

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have recently been receiving a lot of pressure from lawmakers to remove marijuana from its classification as a dangerous narcotic. In a letter signed by 18 members of Congress last week, the President was encouraged to instruct Holder to “delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II.”

In this video taped in 2004, President Obama said publicly that he believed the War on Drugs had been a failure and that he believed the American government needed to rethink and decriminalize marijuana.

 

The American public is also aware of Barack’s pot smoking days when he was part of the Choom Gang in Hawaii. In this video, the President even admitted to inhaling frequently as a young kid.

So why is it that after over 5 years in office, President Obama has yet to move forward and decriminalize marijuana?  It’s not because most Americans are not in support of it. As shown in this NBC poll, most Americans want to legalize marijuana. It’s also not because President Obama can’t do it through executive order. He has already implemented nearly 200 executive orders since his presidency began. So who is stopping our President especially during a time when Americans are moving to Colorado to get access to the plant in order to improve their health? The answer is most likely linked to a treaty that the United States made with the United Nations over 50 years ago.

The treaty is called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and most Americans are unaware of its existence. On page 3 of the document, it classifies “Cannabis and Cannabis Resin and Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis” as a narcotic drug. In 1971, the treaty was amended by the United Nations and in that same year President Nixon declared the War on Drugs and characterized the abuse of illicit substances as “public enemy number one in the United States.”

Was it coincidence that Nixon declared the War on Drugs the same year that the treaty was amended? Definitely not. The amendment to the treaty included a provision that stated that “a Party prohibiting cultivation of the opium poppy or the cannabis plant shall take appropriate measures to seize any plants illicitly cultivated and destroy them, except for small quantities required by the Party for scientific and research purposes.” In effect, the amendment required the United States to enforce the laws on their books against the cultivation of marijuana.

In George Washington’s farewell speech, he warned Americans against the establishment of “permanent alliances with other countries,” connections that he warned would inevitably be subversive of America’s national interest. Is it time for Americans to once again heed his warning?

The United Nations officially came into existence in 1945 and the American public was told that it was going to be a vehicle for maintaining peace and stability amongst all nations that joined the organization. Were the American people lied to?  Did the federal government even have the Constitutional authority to enter into the United Nations? Is the violent American Drug War what the founders of the United Nations had in mind when they decided to tell people that it was going to be a vehicle for peace and stability?

A lot questions need to be asked about the United States past involvement with the United Nations but one conclusion can easily be drawn. There may be no better time than now for America to exit the United Nations and to go back to obeying the U.S. Constitution so that Americans can once again have the freedom to grow, sell, and use marijuana. For the health of the people of our nation and for the cause of liberty, we need to urge President Obama and the rest of Congress to exit the United Nations immediately.

Readers of this article are encouraged to read Art Thompson’s new book, International Merger by Foreign Entanglements, to find out why laws made by the United Nations do not supersede the laws made by the U.S. Constitution. The book helped inspire the author of this article to investigate the international drug laws created by the United Nations.