Tag Archives: Pot

In Surprising About-Face, John Boehner Becomes Medical Pot Lobbyist

Republican John Boehner, who had always maintained that he was “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization back when he was serving as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced on Wednesday that his position has changed and he has signed on to the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, one of the largest cannabis companies in the United States. He is joined on the board by former Republican Massachusetts Governor and 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld.

A news release by Acreage Holdings said, “As members of the Board, Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld will bring an immense, collective and unique set of experiences in government affairs, unmatched leadership and guidance to help drive Acreage towards its strategic mission.” The first phase in this strategic mission appears to be an effort to take down the federal government’s Schedule 1 categorization of cannabis as a hardcore narcotic with no medical use, which prevents scientists from studying potential medical benefits.

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

“The effect of marijuana being a Schedule class 1 narcotic in Washington is a seriously flawed idea. Descheduling is the most constructive step that could be taken,” Bill Weld told The Boston Herald.

A Wednesday joint statement by Weld and Boehner read, “While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy. Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment. During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy. Also, during this period, the public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94 percent of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana’s many medical applications.”

It continued, “We need to look no further than our nation’s 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments. Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis. While the Tenth Amendment has allowed much to occur at the state level, there are still many negative implications of the federal policy to schedule cannabis as a Class 1 drug: most notably the lack of research, the ambiguity around financial services and the refusal of the VA to offer it as an alternative to the harmful opioids that are ravishing our communities.”

David Schnittger, spokesman for John Boehner, told The Washington Post that the former speaker changed his mind on the issue after studying it closely upon leaving office.

Weld said that though it was believed that marijuana was a gateway drug when he was a prosecutor under President Reagan, “Now there’s some evidence that it can become an exit drug” for individuals addicted to opiates.

According to The Hill, some Republican members of Congress are optimistic that cannabis legalization may take place during 2018.

“I’m fairly optimistic that this year will be the year that we can make great progress on this. We had 68 Republicans vote with us last time, and I think it’ll probably be 75 or more next time around,” said California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

“Today’s constituency within the Republican Party has changed. I think that we will be able to have this and expand on this change among Republicans and that’s what’s going to give us the leverage to actually change the law,” he added.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5_7ZeIC2Y40

 

Tenn. Medical Pot Decriminalization Bill Passes Criminal Justice Committee

A significantly-amended reworking of the Medical Cannabis Only bill HB 1749 passed the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 9-2. The bill decriminalizes the possession of medical marijuana by individuals with qualified medical conditions and a doctor’s prescription, but falls short of providing access to the medication in-state.

Truth in Media reported last month that the more robust original version of the bill had passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee with Republican Speaker Beth Harwell’s tying vote.

The qualifying medical conditions under the bill include cancer, HIV and AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, severe arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, or chronic or debilitating diseases.

While the original version of the bill would have provided a legal marketplace for medical pot, bill sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) stripped the bill of language related to marijuana access and focused on decriminalization due to fears that he would not get the votes needed to pass the Criminal Justice Committee. “You’re always working to meet the needs of the individual committee that you’re in,” he told The Tennessean. Faison also complained that medical pot opponents in the state are “stuck in Reefer Madness.”

While speaking on behalf of the decriminalization bill at Wednesday’s committee meeting, Rep. Faison argued, “We have Tennesseans who are illegally alive today, and they’re doing well, but they’re breaking the law. My question is why would we want to have the law be able to arrest these type of individuals or put them in jail or give them a criminal record when they’re fighting to stay alive?”

Reps. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), and Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) voted in favor of the bill.

Reps. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) voted against the measure.

Lawrenceburg mother Andrea Houser testified at the committee that she needs THC-activated cannabis oil to deal with epilepsy and that alternative pharmaceutical drugs used to treat it had given her 19 kidney stones. “Because of cannabis, I felt normal again. I stopped because I didn’t want to break the law – but my seizures came back… It’s not fun when you’re having a seizure, biting your tongue and choking on blood in front of your kids,” she said according to Fox 13.

“I would rather be illegally alive than legally dead,” she added.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott testified against the bill and said that it would lead to an increase in impaired drivers. “Once you start down this slope, it is very difficult to stop the ball from rolling,” he said according to The Tennessean.

The Knox County Democratic Party issued a tweet criticizing the bill for not going far enough. “By removing all language that referred to the creation of a safe, transparent and accountable business and regulatory model for medical cannabis from his own bill, GOP Rep Jeremy Faison gives TN a choice: Leave to get a prescription or break the law by buying on the black market,” it read.

According to Fox 17, the bill now moves on to the House Health Committee.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said that the Tennessee Senate will delay considering the bill until it passes through committees in the House.

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 Pennsylvania House for passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana, and I look forward to the Senate sending the bill to my desk. We will finally provide the essential help needed by patients suffering from seizures, cancer, and other illnesses,” said Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in a statement cited by FOX 43.

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

Debating in favor of the bill, Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong), a cancer survivor, said, “We have a chance today to improve the lives of kids – and old people like me.

Fox News notes that Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) argued against the bill, saying, “I can not remember the last time a body voted on a bill in direct violation of federal law.

The bill would allow the use of cannabis in oil, pill, or ointment form, but would not legalize smoking. Up to 25 growers would be permitted across the state, and licenses would be issued to up to 50 dispensaries, each of which being allowed to serve patients at up to 3 locations.

The Daily Chronic published a list of medical conditions, seen below, that would qualify a patient to obtain a medical marijuana card under the legislation. The law would require patients to renew their cards annually.

QualifyingConditions

Put aside philosophy, put aside agendas, and think for a moment of giving a moment of relief to the afflicted,” said Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Philadelphia).

In September of 2014, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

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

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

VIDEO: Charles Koch Rips Hypocrisy of Pot Criminalization

Billionaire philanthropist and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch blasted the hypocrisy of pot criminalization’s disproportionate enforcement in an October interview on CBS This Morning.

In the interview, which can be seen in the above-embedded video, Koch said, “Some poor kid in the inner city smokes a joint, goes to prison, ruins his life, where we have a president who is more privileged, who smoked a joint, becomes president. We have a candidate who admits smoking a joint — he’s running for president. Now, where is the justice in that?

The controversial Koch brothers have long pushed for criminal justice reforms that would reduce or eliminate harsh criminal penalties for non-violent offenders.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Speaking in terms of principles, Koch said, “I think government is a social agency of coercion. Now that sounds horrible and bad, but we need coercion. Beyond that, government should only be doing those things where coercion works better than voluntary cooperation and competition… But the burden of proof needs to be on the government.

Koch told CBS correspondent Anthony Mason that he dislikes the tone that many Republican candidates have struck on immigration in 2016 presidential primary debates. “We need to reform our immigration policy, letting everyone in this country who’s going to make the country better and let in no one who is going to make it worse,” he said.

Describing his business philosophy, Koch explained, “The way to succeed long term is not to think how do I maximize profits, but how do… we maximize the value we create for others.

[RELATED: Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’]

The Koch brothers are oft-vilified by political progressives who characterize their high levels of spending to promote political causes and candidates as efforts to buy elections.

I get a lot of death threats. I’m now on al-Qaeda’s hit list too. It gets pretty scary… I decided long ago I’d rather die for something than live for nothing,” said the billionaire.

He added, laughing off the challenges of pushing for his political views in the face of so much opposition, “My goal was to get more and more people to understand what makes their lives better, what’s fair, what’s a just society… You know, it’s hard to save the world when the world doesn’t want to be saved.

Tenn. GOP State Rep. to Draft Bill Decriminalizing Pot Possession Among Vets with PTSD

Tennessee State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) said last week that he is drafting a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession by military veterans in the state who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rep. Faison told the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “Pills have side effects. … The No. 1 side effect is suicide. Twenty-eight veterans a day in America are committing suicide.

Aside from a bill legalizing low-THC cannabis oil that Gov. Haslam signed in May of this year, marijuana legalization and decriminalization advocates in the state have struggled to gain support for their initiatives.

[RELATED: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam Signs Cannabis Oil Legalization Bill into Law]

Faison, who claims to have never tried an intoxicant and whose sister was killed by an inebriated driver, says it takes “a special kind of stupid” to fail to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana in the case of war veterans who suffer from PTSD.

He said that his wife, who holds a master’s degree in nutrition, often says, “For most ailments man has, God has a remedy,” and added that he believes that marijuana can sometimes be used as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for certain ailments.

Faison’s bill will only decriminalize pot possession by veterans dealing with PTSD. Critics, such as Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), who relayed an anecdote about a police officer who is wheelchair-bound by seizures, say that the effort is unfair because it does not allow non-veterans with PTSD and other ailments to seek treatment. However, Rep. Jones said that she would be willing to support Faison’s bill as an incremental step to allow a “little piece of the population” to obtain medical marijuana.

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

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.

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

New DEA Head Says Pot “Is Dangerous,” Lacks Medical Use, Belongs on Schedule I

Newly-appointed acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg, who took over the position following previous DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart’s resignation over a scandal in which subordinate DEA agents were caught participating in sex parties with prostitutes funded by Colombian drug cartels, recently clarified that he supports marijuana’s controversial classification alongside hardcore drugs like heroin as a Schedule I narcotic with no medical use.

In an interview with Rosenberg, Fox News’ James Rosen asked, “Two of the last three presidents of the United States have acknowledged having used marijuana… Isn’t that itself – the fact that here we have two men who used marijuana, in varying degrees, and who then went on to become president of the United States – a kind of a prima facie argument that it is time to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act?

Rosenberg replied, “Yeah, I don’t think so.” He added, “Marijuana is dangerous. It certainly is not as dangerous as other Schedule I controlled substances; it’s not as dangerous as heroin, clearly, but it’s still dangerous. It’s not good for you. I wouldn’t want my children smoking it. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone do it. So I don’t frankly see a reason to remove it. We, by the way, support, and have supported, a lot of legitimate research on marijuana, fully behind that; I think it’s great. If we come up with a medical use for it, that would be wonderful. But we haven’t.

Rosen pushed back, “I’ve never seen two guys get thrown out of a bar because they started fist-fighting after smoking a joint. All right? But we’ve seen [that] every Friday and every Saturday night brings just such occasions as a result of the legal distribution of alcohol. Isn’t there some common-sense disparity, or irony, or disconnect in that?

Probably, yeah. Right?” said Rosenberg. “So I don’t know that you’re arguing that they’re both good; you may be arguing that they’re both bad. As I said earlier, marijuana is less dangerous – clearly less dangerous – than heroin. It’s easy to draw that line. But I’m not willing to say that it’s good for you, or that it ought to be legalized. I think it’s bad for you and that it ought to remain illegal.

When Rosen suggested that Rosenberg’s argument could be used to justify banning alcohol, Rosenberg replied, “No, I’m not going to say that. We – we tangled with that as a society in the 1930s. And we know how that went. That’s the law of the land; I get it. I choose not to drink alcohol but I’m not going to impose that on anyone else.

The new DEA chief said that he has never tried marijuana and that his biggest vice is drinking excessive quantities of diet soda.

Rosenberg pinpointed fighting a rising heroin epidemic as his top priority and admitted that legal pharmaceutical drugs are acting as a gateway drug to heroin abuse.

There’s an enormous supply of heroin; it’s cheap. In fact, it’s a lot cheaper than prescription pills. If you take oxycodone and hydrocodone for a football injury and you get hooked, you’re going to pay a dollar a milligram on the street for a pill – thirty milligrams, thirty dollars, give or take. Heroin is probably one-fifth the price, and because it has a similar chemical effect, a similar pharmacological reaction, folks make that transition,” he said.

[RELATED: Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule I Narcotic]

He also pointed out the fact that the black market’s ability to reap profits off of the demand for contraband — which many anti-prohibition advocates argue is a predictable consequence of drug prohibition itself — funds terrorist groups and threatens U.S. national security.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry. What are the bad guys doing with the money that Americans are paying for drugs? What’s it funding overseas? I’m sure some of it’s going to terrorist organizations; we’ve seen that. And so that worries me quite a bit,” said Rosenberg.

Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode noting that the federal government holds a patent on medical cannabis despite the fact that it classifies the substance as having no medical use. Watch the episode in the below-embedded video player.

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

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:

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.

NM Ex-Gov. Gary Johnson Feigns Heart Attack to Mock Anti-Pot Crusader at CPAC

At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference’s marijuana legalization debate, former Republican Governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian Party nominee for president Gary Johnson, a supporter of legalization, faced off against ex-Congesswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, a former nurse who opposes legal pot. In the above-embedded video, Buerkle said, “Let’s talk about marijuana. You have a 1 in 5 higher chance of having a heart attack within the first hour after you smoke marijuana. There are legitimate side effects to this drug.”

Before she could continue, Gary Johnson began clutching his chest and dropped to the floor, pantomiming a heart attack in an obvious mockery of Buerkle’s Reefer Madness-esque claim. The largely college-aged conservative crowd burst into laughter in response to Johnson’s joke.

Said Buerkle in response, “You know, I think the Governor has had great fun with his humor, but it isn’t funny that we’re putting our kids and the future of this country at risk.”

However, Buerkle’s argument that marijuana is putting college students at CPAC at a 1 in 5 increased risk of having a heart attack one hour after marijuana use is a significant mischaracterization of the findings of a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School survey, published by Circulation, of 3882 acute myocardial infarction patients who were asked about their marijuana use around four days after suffering a heart attack. The study’s findings did not suggest that perfectly healthy college students have a “1 in 5 higher chance” of suffering a heart attack within an hour of smoking marijuana. A more realistic characterization of the study would be that its findings suggest that there may be a possibility that someone already at risk of heart attack could face an increased risk, similar to that associated with sexual intercourse or strenuous exercise, of that heart attack occurring within one hour of smoking.

Another study by Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, published in the American Heart Journal after the one mentioned by Buerkle, tested this theory further and found no statistically significant increase in mortality for acute myocardial infarction patients who habitually used marijuana.

MO Republican Introduces Bill to Free Nonviolent Grandfather Serving Life for Pot

In September of last year, BenSwann.com reported on the plight of 61-year-old Jeff Mizanskey, a small-time, nonviolent pot dealer who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for three marijuana offenses under Missouri’s since-repealed Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. Though he remains behind bars, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that one freshman Republican state-level lawmaker is taking aggressive steps to free Mizanskey, who has already spent over two decades behind bars. Since Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has yet to take action and grant clemency for the incarcerated grandfather, Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) has introduced HB 978, a bill that “requires the Board of Probation and Parole to authorize the release of any offender who is incarcerated on August 28, 2015 and who is serving a life sentence without parole for marijuana offenses.”

As it happens, only Jeff Mizanskey fits that description, and, considering the fact that the Prior and Persistent Drug Offender law that led to his incarceration officially expires on January 1, 2017, he will likely be the last to suffer such a fate in the state. In a February 18 press release cited by Riverfront Times, Rep. Dogan said, “It is unconscionable to me that this man, who is no danger to society, will spend the rest of his life in prison at taxpayer expense… Many of my legislative colleagues have come together to implore the governor to commute Mr. Mizanskey’s life sentence, but to date the governor has done nothing more than promise to review Jeff’s case before he leaves office.”

The bill, which Rep. Dogan feels is unlikely to pass, has been introduced in an effort to launch hearings that he hopes will put pressure on Governor Nixon to grant clemency for Mizanskey. Though Nixon ignored Mizanskey’s pleas for clemency for quite some time, he has recently changed his tune and said that he is going to closely review the case. Governor Nixon spoke with KMBC-TV earlier this month about the perpetually-imprisoned grandfather and said, “It’s a very serious amount of time… If the laws change after someone is sentenced, then you want to give those things a close look.”

Rep. Dogan described his views on criminal justice in his press release on HB 978, “I fully support long sentences for repeat violent offenders, because I believe the punishment should fit the crime… In Mr. Mizanskey’s case, I am outraged by the fact that someone who violated our marijuana laws is being treated as harshly as a murderer and incarcerated for life.” Missourinet notes that Rep. Dogan said, “I think when the criminals in the prisons realize the injustice of something, something’s wrong… The idea that these people who have committed robberies, who’ve committed rapes, who’ve committed all kinds of violent crimes, and are a threat to our society can get out after five or ten years, and he’s still sitting there after twenty.”

TN Legislators Introduce Bills to Decriminalize Cannabis Oil, Legalize Marijuana

Following news that TN NORML has launched a petition drive to place a referendum on Nashville’s upcoming August mayoral ballot that would allow voters to decide whether to defund enforcement of low-level marijuana arrests for possession of less than two ounces, state-level lawmakers have also introduced two new bills that, if they were to become law, would weaken Tennessee’s ban on pot. According to WATE-TV, State Representative Harold Love (D-Nashville) introduced HB0873, which would legalize possession and the casual exchange of a half ounce of marijuana or less. The bill would also modify Tennessee criminal code by adjusting the penalty for the possession, distribution, or casual exchange of over an ounce of pot to a misdemeanor punished by a $100 fine. A companion version of the bill, SB 1211, has been introduced in the Tennessee Senate by Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville). If it were to pass, the bill would go into effect on July 1 of this year.

From the other side of the aisle, Republican State Representative Jeremy Faison from Cosby, TN introduced a bill last month that would decriminalize the possession and use of cannabis oil for medical purposes. BenSwann.com previously reported on two Tennessee parents who were forced to move to Colorado to obtain cannabis oil treatment for their two-year-old daughter Piper who suffers from Aicardi Syndrome, a seizure disorder. According to WBIR-TV, Faison’s bill would allow individuals suffering from intense seizures to use cannabis oil. State Senator Becky Duncan-Massey (R-Knoxville) has introduced a companion bill in the Tennessee Senate.

Said Faison of the bill, “Cannabis oil has shown evidence to help children who suffer with seizures, and I strongly believe that if the legislature joins me in passing this bill, it will be one of those times that government does get it right.” Faison pointed out the fact that his bill would stop short of legalizing medical marijuana, as it would only allow oils with less than .9% THC content.

Back in September of 2014, Ben Swann released an expose on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana and cannabis oil. Despite the fact that the federal government claims that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs with no medical use, it also holds a patent on medical marijuana. Watch Ben Swann’s Truth in Media episode on medical marijuana in the player below.

Federal Judge May Declare Pot’s Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic Unconstitutional

Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Sacramento Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California just made some comments in court that signal that she might be preparing to declare marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic unconstitutional. According to Reuters, defense attorneys representing nine California men who are accused of illegally growing medical marijuana on federal land argued before Judge Mueller that the charges should be thrown out under the rationale that federal medical marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

In a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Mueller indicated that she is seriously considering the merits of the defense’s position and said to prosecutors, “If I were persuaded by the defense’s argument, if I bought their argument, what would you lose here?” At stake is whether or not the federal government has overstepped its bounds in declaring marijuana a Schedule 1 narcotic, which categorizes it as one of the deadliest drugs and as having no medical use.

The defendants in the criminal case are facing a $10 million fine, property seizure, and up to life in prison for what their lawyers characterized as an effort to cultivate medical marijuana for people in need of treatment. During the defense team’s closing arguments on a motion to throw out the charges, defense attorney Zenia Gilg said, “It’s impossible to say that there is no accepted medical use.” The defense team also pointed out the facts that 23 US states have already legalized marijuana for medical use and that Congress recently voted to block the Department of Justice from interfering in state-level efforts to legalize medical pot.

Assistant US Attorney Gregory Broderick, a prosecutor in the case, argued that Congress, rather than a judge, should determine whether marijuana belongs on Schedule 1. However, he stopped short of arguing that it does, saying, “We’re not saying that this is the most dangerous drug in the world. All we’re saying is that the evidence is such that reasonable people could disagree.” Meanwhile, he says the defendants should face punishment for growing medical pot on federal land as federal law still bans such activity. Despite the facts that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms and that many business owners rely on firearms to protect valuable merchandise, Broderick cited the men’s status as firearms owners as evidence that their marijuana grow operation was not for medical use. He said, “They had weapons. These guys were not producing medicine.”

The hearing included testimony by doctors as to whether marijuana is useful for medical purposes, which prompted Broderick to admit in comments cited by The Leaf Online, “If Congress heard all the testimony you have heard in this hearing, they may very well decide not to put marijuana in Schedule I.” However, he stood firm in his argument that Judge Mueller lacked the authority to rule on the issue, which he said should fall in the hands of Congress instead.

The Leaf Online‘s Jeremy Daw wrote, “Judge Mueller, who has already scheduled nearly a week of court time to the hearing, did not give any indication of sympathy to [Broderick’s] position,” noting that she did appear to give some pause to the notion that “Broderick’s argument that even if she could properly hear the case, the ultimate outcome is irrelevant” had “more credence.”

Judge Mueller said that she would consider the motion to drop the charges and issue a written ruling within 30 days.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released an expose on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana, as it holds the patent on medical cannabis while also declaring that it has no medical use. Watch it in the embedded video player, seen below.

U.S. Surgeon General Admits That Pot Has Benefits

Appearing on CBS This Morning, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said this: “We have to use that data to drive policy making,” he said, adding later, “I’m very interested to see where that takes us.”

Murthy is the first U.S. Surgeon General to admit this.

He joins the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the California Medical Association who also agree.

Though his statement could signify that the tides are turning, the Department of Health & Human Services followed it up with a lukewarm statement: “Marijuana policy — and all public health policies — should be driven by science,” the statement read. “I believe that marijuana should be subjected to the same, rigorous clinical trials and scientific scrutiny that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) applies to all new medications. The Federal Government has and continues to fund research on possible health benefits of marijuana and its components. While clinical trials for certain components of marijuana appear promising for some medical conditions, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the standards for safe and effective medicine for any condition to date.”

While marijuana is still considered a Schedule I narcotic, it will be hard to study.

According to Vice, the only legal supplier of research-grade marijuana in the country is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). As its name implies, the institute has a congressionally-mandated mission to research abuse and addiction, not the potential therapeutic effects of drugs.

Hopefully, this will be changing as well. According to the Daily Beast, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is considering introducing rescheduling legislation.

“It’s a work in progress,” the aide said, but couldn’t offer any specifics.

Is the Capital of Tennessee About to Decriminalize Marijuana?

A tipping point may have just been reached on the issue of marijuana decriminalization in Nashville, Tennessee. At a Tuesday candidate forum for Nashville’s 2015 mayoral race, five out of seven candidates for mayor signaled their support of or openness to the idea of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, a fact which Tennessean writer Joey Garrison called “a sign of changing attitudes toward the drug that could boost ongoing efforts to change the law in Davidson County.” The ongoing efforts he mentioned include the pro-pot group TN-NORML‘s drive to collect signatures for a petition to place a referendum on August’s city-wide general election ballot that would allow voters to choose whether to de facto decriminalize the possession of under two ounces of marijuana by defunding prosecutions at the city level.

At the mayoral candidate forum, which was hosted by Nashville’s public radio affiliate WPLN along with local attorneys’ groups, candidates Megan Berry and Jeremy Kane openly espoused their support for decriminalization, while Howard Gentry, David Fox, and Charles Robert Bone signaled their willingness to consider it. Bill Freeman positioned himself against decriminalization, and The Tennessean characterized Linda Eskind Rebrovick’s position as seeming to oppose changing the law.

Charles Robert Bone told those in attendance, “I’ve thought for a long time that the criminalization of small amounts of marijuana was totally unfair… So, I, too, would be receptive to that.” Megan Berry pointed out how pot criminalization has disproportionately affected Nashville’s minority communities, and Howard Gentry noted the fact that sentencing laws exacerbate prohibition’s unfairness.

TN-NORML’s effort to change the law through a city-wide referendum requires that the group collect at least 6,877 valid signatures of registered voters by May 18. If the group is successful, a charter amendment proposal would be placed on August’s general election ballot that would allow Nashvillians to vote up-or-down on whether the city’s law enforcement resources should go towards enforcing criminal laws against possession of less than two ounces of pot. Though state laws would still ban pot possession if the charter amendment were to pass, citizens arrested by Nashville police in violation of the amendment would be able to sue the city for damages. TN-NORML’s attorney Daniel Horwitz said of the initiative, “This is a novel attempt at de-funding prosecution of low-level marijuana offenses. This initiative certainly isn’t a panacea, but once enacted, it would ensure that no more Metro dollars are wasted prosecuting adults for the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana going forward.”

Doak Patton, president of TN-NORML, told The Tennessean, “We would like to see resources devoted toward violent criminals, thieves and people who are needing to be locked away instead of nonviolent offenders.”

Though Tennessee is a hard-red, socially-conservative state, its Republican government recently legalized hemp. Nashville, Tennessee’s capital, is widely known as an open-minded, culturally-diverse center of music and the arts for the deep south, and its voters typically elect liberal-leaning Democrats. Nashvillians also elected former criminal defense attorney Glenn Funk to the position of District Attorney last year after he ran a campaign promising to focus the city’s prosecutions on violent criminals rather than low-level drug users.

Ben Swann recently tackled the federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana prohibition in a September 2014 Truth in Media episode. Watch it in the embedded video player below.

Rapper schools Nancy Grace on pot legalization

Rapper 2 Chainz made Nancy Grace look like a huge idiot, regarding the legalization of marijuana.

Grace showed a video of a mother giving her child a blunt. After, she asks the rapper how he can support legalization when he sees a video like this.

“They also were irresponsible people,” 2 Chainz said to Grace. He said that you can’t use these particular stories to pigeonhole the whole movement.

In typical Nancy Grace fashion, she explained the problem with legalized marijuana is that “everyone” will have access.

“If this is legalized, then everyone is going to have unlimited access to pot,” she said.

Watch what 2 Chainz told Grace on her own show:

Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly Rejects City-Wide Ban on Pot Sales, Cultivation

During this year’s November 4 election, voters in Alaska approved a referendum, Ballot Measure 2, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state. However, the fine print in the measure allows municipalities to opt out of legalization, which pitted pro-pot activists against prohibitionists in a city-level showdown in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska in terms of population. According to KTVA CBS-11 News, the Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly considered an ordinance on December 16 that would have banned commercial marijuana transactions and grow operations within the city.

The proposed ordinance had been introduced by Assembly member Amy Demboski, who is running for mayor. She argued that a recreational pot industry could put Alaskan taxpayers into a complicated state of legal limbo with the feds. Said Demboski, “The fact of the matter is marijuana is still a [Schedule 1 drug] — it’s still federally illegal, so if we as a city decide to opt into a commercialized industry that’s based on an illegal federal substance, what impacts does that have to the taxpayers?” As U-T San Diego points out, the Department of Justice has signaled multiple times over the past few years that it does not intend to aggressively pursue pot convictions in states that have legalized marijuana, though it has asserted that it has the right to do so.

Kim Kole, an Anchorage-area teacher and pro-pot activist who has been called the “new face of marijuana legalization” by KTUU-TV 2, said of the initiative to ban pot sales, “There is no legitimate reason to squash new opportunities for small businesses and the economic stimulus that they can create — given our current financial state, one would think that the city would jump on the opportunity for small business economic growth.”

Around 50 people engaged in a heated debate over the issue before the ordinance to ban marijuana sales and production was called to a vote. In the end, the measure failed, with nine members voting against and two, mayoral hopeful Amy Demboski and Assembly member Paul Honeman, supporting the ban.

Now that commercial marijuana production and transactions have survived a ban attempt, the Assembly has switched gears and is working to create taxes and regulations for Anchorage’s newly-legalized recreational pot industry. KTUU-TV 2 is reporting that, on December 23, the Assembly’s committee on commercial pot regulations had its first meeting.

Back in September of this year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode that challenges the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the video player, found below.

GA Man Suffers Armed Raid After Cops Confuse Okra for Pot

Last Wednesday, Georgia retiree Dwayne Perry woke up to the sound of a low-flying chopper hovering above his home. Then, armed officers appeared at his door with a K-9 in tow. Perry told WSB-TV 2, “I was scared actually, at first, because I didn’t know what was happening.”

Investigators were apparently conducting aerial sweeps of the area to look for cannabis plants and mistook Perry’s okra garden for a marijuana grow operation. Possession of cannabis remains illegal in Georgia. “Here I am, at home and retired and, you know, I do the right thing. Then, they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right,” said Perry.

Okra is a plant with edible seed pods that are often an ingredient in many southern staple dishes, including gumbo. It is commonly grown in gardens and on farms throughout the south and across the state of Georgia. When WSB-TV 2 asked Georgia State Patrol Captain Kermit Stokes how the mistake could have been made, he sent a sample photograph of the okra and replied, “We’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant.” Okra plants have five leaves, unlike cannabis plants which have seven.

After officers failed to find marijuana on the property, they apologized to Perry. However, the innocent retiree worries that his reputation in the community might have been affected. Perry, who lives in Cartersville, says he has been receiving constant calls from friends and neighbors asking why such an overwhelming police presence conducted a raid on his home.

In the 1989 case Florida v Riley, the US Supreme Court ruled that police do not need to obtain a warrant or probable cause before conducting random helicopter flyovers above private property to search for marijuana. As police departments across the country begin acquiring unmanned surveillance drones with the capability to capture images in much greater detail than what would be possible with the naked eye, new questions are being raised as to what homeowners should consider a reasonable expectation of privacy. California is currently grappling with this debate, as Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have required officers to obtain a warrant before using a drone to spy on a homeowner’s property.

In related news, Ben Swann recently released a new Truth in Media episode on medical cannabis. Watch it in the player, embedded below.