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Obama Predicts Bright Future For Legal Weed

Source: Huffington Post

Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama said during a YouTube interview Thursday that he believes more states will consider legalizing recreational marijuana, citing his administration’s hands-off approach to prohibition-ending cannabis laws in Colorado and Washington state.

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington, through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to host Hank Green. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Obama went on to say that he has asked his Department of Justice to examine how nonviolent drug offenders are being treated by the justice system.

“What we have done is instead of focusing on treatment — the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as public health problem — we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem,” Obama said. “I think that it’s been counterproductive, and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law, and that has to be changed.”

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, and will soon be allowed in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. Federal law, however, continues to declare all uses of marijuana illegal. Department of Justice guidance urges federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations.

The United States, home to 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Harsh sentences for nonviolent drug crimes have bolstered that figure. A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report found that blacks were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell told The Huffington Post that Obama’s prediction affirms what legalization in Colorado and Washington has demonstrated “about generating tax revenue, reducing crime and freeing up limited police resources.”  Read More..

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Obama on Marijuana Legalization

Source: Washington Post

Washington, D.C. — President Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to experiment with marijuana legalization. In a 5 p.m. interview conducted by a handful of YouTube stars, Obama discussed the fragmented policy surrounding the plant, which is legal in Colorado and Washington and regulated differently state by state.

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to a question posed by Hank Green, who with his brother runs a YouTube channel with nearly 2.5 million subscribers.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said, about 11 minutes into the video embedded above. “My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

The president went on to discuss a number of issues related to federal application of drug policy. He said that he will continue to have his administration review treatment of nonviolent drug offenders, and said drug policy with regard to marijuana should be treated more as a public health issue than a criminal one. He also voiced concern with the racially unequal application of marijuana laws and noted bipartisan support on the issue.

Here is the rest of what he had to say on the issue: Read More..

Legal Marijuana Is The Fastest-Growing Industry In The U.S.: Report

Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry, according to a new report obtained by The Huffington Post.

Researchers from The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California, found that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013.

The group surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant, over the course of seven months during 2013 and 2014. ArcView also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace.

Read More..

Things To Know About Medical Marijuana in Colorado

Source: Associated Press

Denver — Colorado lawmakers are taking another look at the state’s medical marijuana market this week. That’s because the state’s medical marijuana regulations were passed in 2010 with a five-year sunset provision, so they expire this year if legislators don’t renew them.

Everything is on the table, and a Senate committee takes a first look at the rules Tuesday. Here are some things to know about what’s at stake:

THE BIG FIGHT

It will be about caregivers. These are people designated by medical marijuana patients to grow their pot for them. Officials say caregivers need more oversight to make sure they’re not growing more pot than authorized and have suggested that caregivers’ plant production amounts to a gray market because that marijuana isn’t taxed or regulated the way commercial marijuana is.

Lawmakers already have a bill focused just on caregivers. It would require them to register with the state, instead of the optional registration system in place now. Officials say the lack of a statewide registry makes it too hard for law enforcement to check a pot-grower’s claims that they are producing marijuana for patients.

“We want to make there aren’t any bad actors sending their marijuana out into the black market,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.

The bill also requires the Colorado medical board to step up oversight of doctors who recommend pot for patients’ severe pain — the most common condition authorized under the state’s medical pot registry but one that critics complain is overused by unscrupulous physicians.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA WILL LOOK MORE LIKE RECREATIONAL POT Read More..

D.C. Council Sets Up Hearings on MJ Regulations

Source: Washington Times

Washington, D.C. — The D.C. Council is pursuing a regulatory scheme for the sale and taxation of marijuana, scheduling hearings on proposed legislation that flies in the face of congressional attempts to prevent the District from loosening its drug laws.

City officials say council committees expect to begin hearings on the bill in early February — a move that will gauge how far D.C. lawmakers are willing to challenge Congress on the issue.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said the council should be in the clear to hold public meetings on the proposed legislation, which would codify regulations regarding marijuana that were not included in a voter-approved ballot initiative.

“All we’re talking about is a hearing,” Mr. Mendelson said. “I don’t think that’s inappropriate. And I think trying to muffle public discussion would implicate constitutional issues. It would be bad public policy.”

The District is still wrangling with Republican members of Congress over the fate the city’s marijuana legalization initiative, which seven out of 10 voters supported at the ballot box in November. Congress passed a spending bill in December that blocks the District from spending money to “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession” of any schedule 1 drugs. City lawmakers have taken the legal stance that Initiative 71 was self-executing and took effect when voters approved it — well ahead of the adoption of the spending bill by Congress.

Enacting new laws regarding marijuana in the time since the spending bill was passed is different territory, leaving in question at what point city lawmakers would run afoul of the restrictions approved in the congressional budget package.

The federal lawmaker who included the language blocking marijuana legalization in the federal spending bill doesn’t have a firm stance on how far through the legislative process D.C. lawmakers would legally be allowed to go. Read More..

Man Who Faces Years In Prison Has Cancer

Source: Huffington Post

Washington State — A Washington state man who is facing at least 10 years in prison if convicted in a high-profile federal case over growing medical marijuana for personal use has been diagnosed with cancer. Larry Harvey, 71, has stage 4 cancer of the pancreas that has begun to spread to his liver, Harvey’s wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, told The Huffington Post in a written statement.

“Larry’s health has been going downhill since this case began,” Firestack-Harvey said. “This summer, he was hospitalized for ten days due to blood poisoning. That was the first sign of trouble with his pancreas. Larry took a sudden turn for the worse in December and we learned on his birthday that he has pancreatic cancer.

Doctors have since confirmed that it is Stage IV and has started to spread to his liver. Larry had his second round of chemotherapy this Wednesday, followed by a blood transfusion on Thursday. We are trying to stay focused on his recovery, but the stress of trial in February makes this struggle even harder than it already is.”

Harvey, along with his wife, Rhonda; their son, Rolland Gregg; Rolland’s wife, Michelle Gregg; as well as close family friend Jason Zucker are all facing federal marijuana charges for growing about 70 cannabis plants for their own medical use at the Harveys’ rural home. The family’s defense attorneys have maintained the pot patch complied with state law. Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational marijuana in 2012. Still, federal law classifies marijuana a Schedule I substance “with no currently accepted medical use.” Read More..

D.C. Moves Forward With MJ Legalization

Source: Huffington Post

Washington — D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) submitted the District of Columbia’s new marijuana legalization initiative to Congress Tuesday, ignoring an effort by congressional Republicans to block the measure.

Alana Intrieri, legislative counsel to Mendelson, confirmed to The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday that Initiative 71 has been transmitted to Congress, beginning a mandatory 30-day congressional review process.

In November, 70 percent of D.C. voters approved the initiative, which would legalize up to two ounces of cannabis for personal use and up to six marijuana plants for home cultivation while still banning sales.

Though the city is mostly autonomous, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress final say over the District’s laws. If Congress and President Barack Obama do not decide to block the measure, the new law could go into effect as early as March.

However, a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that was signed by Obama in December was flooded with hundreds of additional provisions known as “riders.” One of these, introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) was an anti-pot measure forbidding D.C. from using any funding to enact an initiative relaxing penalties for drugs that are illegal under federal law.

Now, following Mendelson’s move, there is disagreement over what will happen next to the pot referendum. Read More..