Tag Archives: Recreational Marijuana

Minors Face ‘Unintended’ Felony Charges For Pot Under Wash. Recreational Cannabis Law

Three teens, ages 14, 15, and 17, are facing felony charges for pot possession in the U.S. state of Washington, where recreational marijuana possession is legal.

According to NPR, a lesser-known provision in a new law, SB 5052, which was aimed at consolidating taxes and regulations between the state’s medical and recreational marijuana industries, has stiffened the penalty for pot possession by individuals under 21 from a misdemeanor punished by up to 90 days in jail to a class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Jaime Smith, a spokesperson for Democratic Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee, said in comments cited by The Associated Press, “I can only tell you that this was not the intention that the governor had when working with legislators on this bill.” Smith added, “There are other ways to [discourage marijuana use by minors] without charging them with felonies.” Gov. Inslee signed the bill into law earlier this year.

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

Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), who sponsored the bill, said that the provision was intended to discourage minors from using marijuana. “We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate,” she said.

The Lewiston Tribune notes that the three teens are facing charges in Asotin County, which borders Idaho. Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols pointed out the fact that they are the first to be charged under the new law and explained its effect, “If you are a minor, a person under 21, [marijuana possession] is a felony no matter what.” Nichols later appeared open to downgrading the teens’ charges to misdemeanors.

Nichols said that if lawmakers were to repeal the provision, the teens currently facing charges could have their expected convictions vacated by the court after the fact.

Rick Laws, an Asotin County public defender assigned to represent one of the teens, said that hard prison time is “an awfully high price for a few people to have to pay for faulty legislative work.

Back 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

Cannabis Advocates Seek To Loosen Denver’s Ban On Public Usage

Denver, CO- Two of the chief proponents of Amendment 64, the measure that brought legal recreational marijuana to the state of Colorado, launched a petition drive on Thursday to gather signatures in support of a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana consumption at places of business that wish to allow it.

Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente announced a push to gather signatures for a ballot measure that would give businesses in Denver the option to allow adults to consume marijuana in designated areas not visible to the rest of the public.

Private, members-only cannabis clubs exist in the city, but consumption of marijuana in commercial establishments like bars is prohibited. “Adults should have the right to consume it socially with other adults in commercial establishments that choose to allow it,” Tvert said. “We also need to ensure that adults who visit Denver and purchase marijuana legally have a place where they can consume it legally.”

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the ballot initiative would allow businesses such as bars, restaurants, and cafes to provide a restricted area in their establishments for adults to 21 and older to consume marijuana. The measure would comply with Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act by restricting cannabis use to edible products or the use of vaporizers. Marijuana would not be available for sale in these establishments.

The ballot initiative’s language was approved by the city of Denver according to weekly paper Westword, and approximately 4,700 signatures are needed in order for the measure to be included on the November ballot.

“Voters have told us they want marijuana to be regulated like alcohol,” Tvert said according to Westword. “Obviously, if we were to treat marijuana exactly like alcohol, we wouldn’t need to go as far as we have. The city doesn’t have a problem with adults using alcohol in front of people who are under 21, for example. But we’re taking it a step further. Opponents say they’re worried about kids seeing adults using marijuana, but they don’t need to be, because that won’t be allowed.”

 

Chris Christie Promises To “Crack Down” On Legalized Marijuana If Elected President

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has not yet made the decision to run for President, but he recently reiterated his strong opposition to the idea of states legalizing marijuana.

During an interview with Christie on his radio show, Hugh Hewitt asked the Governor if he would enforce federal law on states like Colorado and Washington that allow the recreational use and sale of marijuana.

“You were a United States prosecutor for a long time,” Hewitt said. “Right now we’ve got the states of Colorado and Washington flaunting federal law by allowing people to sell dope legally. If you’re the President of the United States, are you going to enforce the federal drug laws in those states?” Christie quickly replied:

“Absolutely, I will crack down and not permit it.”

“Marijuana is a gateway drug,” Christie continued. “Um, we have an enormous addiction problem in this country, and we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down to federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law, and the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”

Christie’s position on marijuana is not a surprise; last June, he was asked by New Hampshire state representative candidate Brinck Slattery how he would treat states that have legalized medical marijuana. Christie answered “probably not well.” Christie also called New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and other medical marijuana programs a “fallacy” and a “front” for full legalization.

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.”

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:

Rocky Mountain High: Colorado Issues World’s First Recreational Marijuana License

Once the “richest square mile on earth,” Central City, Colorado is now largely a gambling town with casinos, an Opera House, and other gambling town amenities.  People from all over the state go to enjoy a Vegas-style weekend in a closer and much more picturesque location.  Now, though, it has another claim to fame.  It’s the location of the world’s first recreational pot license.

Though it’s the first to get it, Annie’s is far from the only dispensary seeking a recreational license.  The same company which owns the shop operates eight other dispensaries across the state, and hopes each one will be licensed.  In total, 136 applications for recreational licenses were accepted by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division in October, with decisions for each of those applicants guaranteed by the year’s end.

All approved stores will be able to start selling recreational marijuana on January 1, 2014, but Annie’s will always be the first, something they’re eager to promote.  With a cover photo highlighting their honor on Facebook, the store has already drawn likes from multiple continents.  It’s strategically placed to reap the benefits of its title, too, in a town whose revenue is already mostly from tourists.

A comment from  Facebook.com says, Annie’s Central City Dispensary: “We are currently open for Medical patients. On Jan. 1, 2014 we will be open for retail with a valid ID showing you are 21 years of age or older! Out-of-staters can purchase 1/4 OZ per visit, Colorado residents can purchase 1oz per visit. In addition to edibles and extracts. Happy shopping!”

Preview photos of the store show black walls with deli cases filled with different marijuana strains.  It’s no longer a matter of what’s available, legalization has turned marijuana into a legitimate business, with product competition to reflect this change.  Colorado is already known for its craft breweries, with most towns having a brewery and some winning international awards.

higher living

Now the state is in the position to earn a similar reputation in the marijuana industry.  Some fear that this will lead to “pot tourists,” but an equal number look forward to the tourist revenue from such an idea.  In reality, it’s likely that states like Washington and Colorado are only the forerunners of legalized marijuana, and that other states will follow.

California is already preparing another attempt to legalize recreational marijuana.  Lansing, MI and Portland, ME legalized the substance in the last election.  The Huffington Post predicts that Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island and Vermont will all legalize it in the near future.  This interesting combination of red and blue states illustrates the unique nature of marijuana legalization as an issue.

Benswann.com’s Michael Lotfi notes in his recent article that the Feds are raiding homes even though the “parties involved claim they were properly licensed, followed all state regulations and were not doing anything which would have prompted the feds to step in.” So why are they raiding these legal business?

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook asked Erin Phillips, CEO of  Strainwise and owner of the retail store Annie’s Central City Dispensary if they were concerned with the recent events in CO where the FEDs are raiding legal marijuana retailers. Phillips emailed Cook stating, “at this time, Strainwise is not speculating on the possible reasons for the raids.  We prefer to wait until all of the facts come out.”

Rob Corry, a Denver attorney and marijuana activist, told the Denver Post:  “The DOJ needs to explain in a logical fashion why they are picking and choosing, going after only some of these entities when every one of them selling marijuana is running afoul of the federal law.”

According to Mason Tvert via Reason.com, “The Justice Department said it would respect states’ rights to regulate marijuana, and that it would not go after businesses as long as they are complying with state laws,” he said. “We hope they are sticking to their word and not interfering with any state-regulated, law-abiding businesses.”