May 28, 2015 Online Issue
By Lindsay Kimble
USA — The legalization of marijuana remains hotly debated. But for Morgan Freeman, there’s no question.
The 77-year-old Oscar winner, well known for his deep, mellow voice, spoke candidly about his own marijuana use during an interview with The Daily Beast last week.“Legalize it across the board,” the Lucy actor said.
Freeman became an advocate for medicinal use of the drug after shattering his left shoulder, arm and elbow in a car accident in 2008. He still hasn’t regained full use of his left hand and continues to experience pain, which inspires his support for the medicinal use of the drug.
“Marijuana has many useful uses,” he told The Daily Beast. “I have fibromyalgia pain in this arm, and the only thing that offers any relief is marijuana. They’re talking about kids who have grand mal seizures, and they’ve discovered that marijuana eases that down to where these children can have a life.”
The 5 Flights Up star said his first wife initially introduced him to marijuana. Read More..
May 28, 2015 Online Issue
By Matt Ferner, The Huffington Post
Source: Huffington Post
USA — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana possession and the legalization of medical marijuana, and suggested that he’s also open to considering further reforms when it comes to recreational marijuana.
“Let me just say this,” Sanders began in response to a question about his position on the war on drugs during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” style interview. “The state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. I have supported the use of medical marijuana. And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do.”
With regard to full marijuana legalization, Sanders said he will look to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, to see the effects of such a policy change. Colorado was the first state to legalize the drug for recreational purposes. It’s now fully legal in four states and in Washington, D.C., though sales remain banned in the District. Read More..
May 28, 2015 Online Issue
By Gene Johnson, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Seattle — With Washington state overhauling its medical marijuana law, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the city is planning to shutter dozens of dispensaries.
Murray on Tuesday announced plans to require a new special business license for marijuana establishments, akin to those required for taxi operators and pawn shops. Under the mayor’s plan, the businesses will be required to obtain the licenses by July 2016.
But just as the state’s new medical marijuana law gives priority in licensing to dispensaries that were in operation before Jan. 1, 2013, so does Murray’s proposal. Seattle officials say that by their tally, 54 of the city’s 99 medical marijuana storefronts opened after that date or have been operating without a city business license.
Murray’s office says those businesses won’t be getting the special license and need to shut down. The rest will be allowed to remain open long enough to see if they wind up being permitted by the state. Read More..
May 18, 2015 Online Issue
New Jersey has one of the most strict medical marijuana programs in the country. You can’t grow your own medical marijuana, and there are a very limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey. The dispensaries run out of medicine often, and from what I’ve heard, the medical marijuana isn’t very good. But regardless of the quality of the medical marijuana in New Jersey, one thing is for sure – it’s very expensive.
A 2013 survey from the New Jersey Department of Health found that patients at New Jersey’s medical marijuana dispensaries paid on average $469 an ounce. According to activist Ken Wolski, patients are now being charged over $500 an ounce for legal pot, and as a result, many are forced to buy pot on the black market, where it’s more affordable. Some don’t get any marijuana at all.
“They’re priced out of the program,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. “Insurance doesn’t cover the costs.”
I just read on my Facebook page today a post from a friend who works at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oregon. She was posting a special that her dispensary is running this next week for $99 ounces. And that is not unusual in Oregon. The dispensary closest to my house sells $160 ounces everyday of the week, even when there aren’t specials. The patients in New Jersey are getting price gouged due to the laws of supply and demand. The patients deserve affordable medicine, which will only occur when New Jersey gets a far better medical marijuana program. Sadly, that will never happen as long as Chris Christie is in office.
May 18, 2015 Online Issue
Federal guidelines on marijuana banking are far from clear, and create more questions than answers. That is proven by the fact that so few banks will work with marijuana businesses, even though it’s legal to do so now under strict scenarios. The guidelines are so strict and burdensome that even banks that are willing to work with marijuana businesses on principle still refuse to do so because it’s more effort and trouble than it’s worth. Yet another bank is ceasing operations for marijuana businesses.
First Security Bank of Nevada, which began working with the nascent medical marijuana industry in the state last year, has decided to reverse course because of compliance issues, its chairman told Marijuana Business Daily Friday morning.
“The board has decided to (essentially) exit the marijuana industry,” said Jason Awad, the chairman of the board of First Security. “We have attempted, at a huge cost of time, to implement a robust compliance program… We found out that the compliance issue is so costly that it’s going to be prohibitive.”
The move comes at perhaps the worst possible time: Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Nevada are just now gearing up to open, possibly in the coming weeks. This development could delay many of these businesses and present new hurdles for the state’s emerging MMJ industry.
The stance that First Security Bank of Nevada has taken is a similar one that other banks who have worked with the industry for a time have taken. The federal guidelines for marijuana banking are simply unworkable. Are there scenarios where the guidelines allow for marijuana business banking? Sure. But are they realistic guidelines? I don’t think so, and for proof of that, I offer up every banking company that has pulled away from the industry citing the reason for a change in policy being that being in compliance is too expensive. It’s beyond time for true federal marijuana banking reform.
May 18, 2015 Online Issue
It seems like every week there is a poll that shows overwhelming support for marijuana reform, especially for medical marijuana reform. Marijuana is medicine, proven by the virtually endless supply of studies and personal testimonies. More and more Americans have either used, or no someone that has used, marijuana for medical purposes everyday, which is taking away the stigma. A new poll was released earlier this month, which found overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in America. Below are some of the highlights of the poll results:
Currently, four in five adults (81%) favor legalizing marijuana for medical use, up from 2011 when three quarters of Americans (74%) indicated the same. Meanwhile, half of Americans are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (49%), up from the two fifths (42%) who felt that way in 2011.
Nearly nine in ten Democrats and Independents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical treatment (87% & 86%, respectively) and over half support recreational use (58% & 55%, respectively)
While a majority – albeit a slimmer one – of Republicans also support the legalization medical marijuana (69% support, 23% oppose), a similar majority opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use (27% support, 65% oppose).
As for who should be making the big legalization decision, 44% favor each state resolving the issue for itself, while 35% favor a single law handed down by the federal government.
When asked about the effects legalizing marijuana might have, expectations have not changed much since 2011. Then and now, three quarters of adults (75%) expect tax revenues will increase post legalization.
This poll will no doubt be followed by many more polls that show the same, or more favorable, results. But just because 81% support medical marijuana legalization, doesn’t mean that all 81% agree on the same form of medical marijuana legalization. I’d be curious to know how many support dispensaries, or the right to home cultivation, or what conditions and ailments would qualify to use medical marijuana.
May 15, 2015 Online Issue
A senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.
Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration’s hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state, and other drug war problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead showing remarkable deference to the DEA’s administrators. That has started to change recently, and Leonhart’s departure was seen as an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the agency and support reform.