Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking

A Florida Circuit Court judge ruled today that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

Lawmakers in 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A — which sought to amend provisions in Amendment 2, a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, SB 8A prohibited the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and barred the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016.

Backers of Amendment 2, including the group Florida for Care and longtime medical activist Cathy Jordan, challenged the ‘no smoking’ ban — arguing that lawmakers improperly sought to overrule the will of the electorate. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers today ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

“Section 381.986, Florida Statutes (2017) unconstitutionally restricts rights that are protected in the Constitution, and so the statutory prohibition against the use of smokeable marijuana permitted by [a] qualifying patient is declared invalid and unenforceable,” the judge ruled. “Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients …

Georgia Legislators Out Of Touch With Constituency

What’s A Straw Poll?

For those that don’t know, a straw poll is an unofficial ballot conducted as a test of opinion.  On 5/22/2018 the question above appeared as the first local question on the Democratic ballot for Forsyth County, Georgia.  “Should Georgia amend the state Constitution to legalize the use of cannabis/marijuana for those 21 years old and older, allow a retail dispensary base, tax said products, and allocate revenue received equally to state education and transportation infrastructure?”

The results are non-binding in any way.  It was just a question to “test the opinion” of the voters.  Well, the voters spoke, and the results are pretty amazing, though not all that surprising.

4996 (a whopping 77%) answered YES
Only 1471 answered NO

Did I mention that a whopping 77% answered YES?

Marijuana On An Official Ballot in Georgia?

How’d that happen?  I reached out to Melissa Clink, who currently chairs the Forsyth Democratic Party and asked that question.  She told me, “Our election board officials asked about a month ahead of elections if we wanted questions on our ballot. These questions take the temperature of voters and in my opinion alert elected officials how their constituents want them to vote on such matters.  I believed marijuana legalization was a high priority question in Georgia”.

Clink said that there was some initial resistance from within the party, although support for medical usage was unequivocal.  As is the case with …

Oklahoma: Polling Shows Strong Voter Support For Upcoming Medical Marijuana Vote

By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 — a voter-initiated measure to permit patients access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Oklahomans will decide on the measure in a special election on Tuesday, June 26.

According to polling data compiled by SoonerPoll.com and released today, 58 percent of likely voters endorse the measure, while 30 percent oppose it. Public support for the patient-centric initiative — which empowers physicians to use their discretion when determining cannabis therapy — has largely held steady, even in the face of growing, organized opposition from members of law enforcement and certain business leaders.

Under the plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and obtain personal use quantities of marijuana flower, edibles, or infused concentrates from regulated dispensaries. NORML formally endorsed the measure in January.

Initiative proponents gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016. However, the vote was postponed because when the state attorney general attempted to reword the initiative’s ballot title in a misleading manner. Initiative proponents sued to restore the title’s original wording. This year, proponents fought back legislation which sought to preemptively amend the initiative in a manner that would have curtailed the rights of both patients and their physicians.

Voters in three other states — Michigan, Missouri, and Utah — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform …

Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/25

Legalize marijuanaWelcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

Federally, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

At the state level, NORML PAC announced the endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning medical cannabis on college campuses violates the state Constitution. And Nevada retailers sold more than $41 million worth of recreational marijuana in March, a new monthly record.

At a more local level, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is directing the NYPD to stop arresting people smoking marijuana in public, and is moving to draft a plan to prepare the city for eventual legalization. The Los Angeles County, California Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting state legislation to expunge marijuana convictions, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council’s Public Safety Committee gave unanimous initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board voted to place an advisory marijuana legalization question on the November ballot.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and …

Condo Boards Move to Ban Pot Smoking

Andre Rocher’s first thought upon hearing that his condo building would ban the smoking of marijuana after it’s legalized was that the move would be “very unfair” for homeowners. But Rocher has since changed his mind, after thinking “of those homeowners who bought, say, a million-dollar condo or a $2-million condo, and now their rightful enjoyment of their property is going to be affected.” Bracing for impending legalization of marijuana, condominium properties are starting to…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2018/05/25/condo-boards-move-to-ban-pot-smoking…

13 Questions with Tommy Chong on His 80th Birthday

Stoner icon Tommy Chong turns 80 today, May 24. Here are highlights from interviews Freedom Leaf has conducted with Chong in which he talks about his long partnership with Richard “Cheech” Marin, the ending of Up in Smoke and other subjects from his 65-year-career in entertainment.

When was the first time you smoked pot?

I was 17 years old at a jazz club in Calgary. A Chinese jazz musician brought back a Lenny Bruce album and a couple of joints from California. He gave me the Lenny Bruce record and the joint. We lit his joint up, because I saved mine, and I got high for the first time. It was the first time I ever smoked. It changed my life. The next day I quit school.

How did you meet Cheech?

Cheech & Chong at New York’s Bitter End in 1972 (Photo by Allen Green)

He was a draft dodger from the States. He was the first Mexican I ever met, so I just wanted to touch him. When he met me, he’d never seen anything like me before either. I had real long hair, a Genghis Khan kind of look. He had real short hair, because he was dodging the draft from America in Canada and was trying to blend in. His name was Richard Marin. He never did a Mexican accent.

How did you get the name Cheech & Chong?

We won a battle of the bands …

Aurora Expands Canadian (And Global) Footprint

With the summer season (and recreational reform) fast approaching and the continued growth of the European medical market, Canadian LP Aurora has continued to power forward with another stock acquisition. This time, the firm is medical cannabis firm MedReleaf (TSE:LEAF). The price? $3.2 billion in stock.

Aurora shareholders will now own 61% of MedReleaf.

The firm has also, of course, solidified its place as a global leader in the cannabis space with production capacity of over 570,000 kilos of cannabis a year.This purchase will absolutely ensure that the company is in a strong position

According to a statement by chief executive Terry Booth, “Our complementary assets, strategic synergies and strong market positioning will provide us with critical mass and an excellent product portfolio in preparation for the adult consumer use market in Canada.”

It also does a bit more than that.

With the German cultivation bid in what appears to be at least a three to six month delay, exports, including from Canada, are the only real way into Europe’s largest cannabis market. And Aurora, with it’s on the ground partner, Pedianos, isright in the middle of it. This purchase will absolutely ensure that the company is in a strong position as the next level of cannabis reform begins to unfold particularly in Europe.

Cannabis Is SO Expensive!

In fact, per this report, Aurora, via Pedianos, and MedCann (the company that became both Spektrum Cannabis and bought out by …

Arizona: Supreme Court Affirms That Lawmakers Cannot Ban Medical Cannabis Access on College Campuses

In a ruling issued today by the Arizona Supreme Court, justices upheld an appellate court decision striking down a 2012 law that sought to forbid medical cannabis access on college campuses.

Lifetime NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono, and called the decision a “victory for democracy.”

Justices opined that the 2012 law was unconstitutional because it impermissibly sought to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which voters passed in 2010. State law limits the legislature’s ability to amend, repeal, or supersede voter-initiated laws.

“Because the AMMA sets forth a list of locations where the legislature may impose ‘civil, criminal or other penalties’ when a person possesses or uses marijuana, § 36-2802, and because that list does not include college and university campuses (unlike pre-, primary-, and secondary-school grounds), we assume that the voters did not intend to criminalize AMMA-compliant possession or use of marijuana on public college and university campuses,” the court ruled. It further rejected the state’s claim that a campus-wide ban was necessary in order to preserve universities’ federal funding.

“If the State had prevailed, they could then have tampered with any and all ballot initiatives, past, present, and future,” said Dean. “This is a victory for all Arizona voters and especially for medical marijuana patients.”

The ruling sets aside the felony conviction of defendant Andrew Lee Maestas, who was initially charged and found guilty of the possession …

Senator Jeff Merkley Cosponsors The Marijuana Justice Act

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The Marijuana Justice Act is the first ever companion legislation that has been introduced in both chambers of Congress remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The bills, S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

The House companion legislation is being sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and has 37 additional cosponsors.

Click here to send a message to your federal officials to tell them to follow suit and cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/05/23/senator-jeff-merkley-cosponsors-the-marijuana-justice-act/…

Freedom Leaf Recipes: Mexican-Fusion Cuisine, Baja Med-Style

When I visited Mexico’s Baja California peninsula in my youth, the most notable “cuisine” consisted of fish tacos and cerveza. No more. Baja Mediterranean is now a hot culinary trend that’s gaining worldwide recognition.

The explosion in popularity of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine country has undoubtedly helped put “Baja Med” on the map. Besides wines that are racking up international medals, visitors will find world-class olive oils and farm-to-table fare all the way from casual to haute cuisine.

Three elements define the Baja Med diet:

• Mexican influences such as cheeses, chicharrones, chilies and masa
• Mediterranean influences such as olives and olive oil, and herbs and spices.
• Parts of Baja have large Asian populations, so their ingredients and culinary styles have been assimilated into the local cooking.

DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Fell Nearly 40 Percent in 2017

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops in the United States fell nearly 40 percent between the years 2016 and 2017, according to annual data compiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated an estimated 3.38 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2017. This total represents a 37 percent decrease from the agency’s 2016 totals, when it eradicated some 5.34 million plants.

As in past years, the majority of seizures nationwide (72 percent) took place in California, where law enforcement seized and estimated 2.45 million plants. That total was 35 percent lower than in 2016, when law enforcement confiscated an estimated 3.78 million plants. California voters in November 2016 legalized adult use marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales.

Law enforcement seized 472,927 plants in Kentucky (down 15 percent from 2016), 74,599 plants in West Virginia (down 40 percent), 62,323 plants in Arkansas (up 93 percent), 60,658 plants in Indiana (up five percent), and 34,646 plants in Tennessee (down 73 percent).

The agency and its partners reported making 4,502 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a 20 percent decline from 2016.

The DEA also reported seizing some $20.5 million in assets during their confiscation efforts – a 60 percent reduction from the previous year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2017 report, as well as past years’ reports, are available online

NORML PAC Endorses Jared Polis for Colorado Governor

NORML PAC is pleased to announce our endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado.

During his tenure in Congress, Rep. Polis has been the preeminent champion for ending our failed federal prohibition on marijuana and an unrelenting force in standing up for state legalization and medical marijuana laws. At this crucial time in the fight for sensible marijuana policy, Coloradans need an outspoken defender of their state’s right to legalize and regulate marijuana.

Congressman Polis is the only choice for Colorado governor who will truly stand up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his prohibitionist agenda and aggressively defend the will of the majority of Coloradans who voted to regulate the adult use of marijuana.

Colorado deserves a leader who will stand up and fight for the Colorado’s legalization law and serve as an advocate to encourage other states to follow in the Rocky Mountain State’s footsteps, Colorado deserves a leader like Jared Polis. Help us make that a reality.

Commenting on the endorsement, Jared Polis stated:  “I’ve been proud to lead the fight for cannabis reform in Congress, and NORML has been an incredibly valuable partner in that effort, Here in Colorado, we’ve proven that legal cannabis creates jobs; funds schools, not cartels; and boosts our economy, not our prison population, and I look forward to growing this industry. It’s an honor to have NORML’s endorsement, and I will proudly stand with them against Jeff Sessions or anyone

Freedom Leaf Travel: Welcome to Baja California

It’s just 17 miles from San Diego to where Mexico begins and two hours from Long Beach, where I used to live. Last year, I moved to Ensenada in Baja California, which is on the Pacific Ocean about two hours (70 miles) south of the border.

Spanning 745 miles north to south, the Baja peninsula is one of the world’s longest. Halfway down it becomes another state, Baja California Sur, and at the southern tip is the tourist destination Cabo San Lucas.

Before the move, I was bombarded with inaccurate information from well-meaning friends about what to expect. The biggest misconception is that Mexico is dangerous. Yes, five of the country’s 32 states have Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warnings, “due to violent crime and gang activity,” according to the U.S. State Department. But Baja is listed as a Level 2, meaning  “Exercise Increased Caution.” The state’s main tourist hubs— Ensenada, Rosarito and Tijuana—are considered safe (see “Baja California Travel Advisory” below).

It’s just 17 miles from San Diego to the Mexico border, and another 70 to Ensenada.

Americans are easily frightened by sensationalistic media accounts of mass executions and cartel violence. But like the violent crime that occurs in the U.S. every day, these activities rarely affect the average citizen or tourist.

A Brief History of Marihuana in Mexico

Pancho Villa (center) smokes a joint on his ranch in Chihuahua.

Mexico has been key in the worldwide spread of marijuana use and cannabis culture. It was through Mexico that the plant found its way to North America’s jazz vipers, beatniks and hippies. But the absurd policy of attempting to suppress cannabis in the same way as truly dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin is a large part of what has propelled Mexico into a crisis of relentless, nightmarish narco-violence.

The legacy of the 500-year Moorish occupation of Spain was critical in Mexico’s rise as a global cannabis hub. The Moors brought hashish and the Maghrebi tradition of kif-smoking to Spain. It survived in the shadows among the Moriscos (crypto-Moors) even after the 1492 Catholic Reconquista and the Inquisition. Cannabis first entered the New World on Spanish galleons bound for New Spain (Mexico).

It caught on with both peasants and the higher classes in Mexico over the centuries. The iconic anthem of the Mexican Revolution, “La Cucaracha,” is about Pancho Villa’s peasant army getting high (“marihuana que fumar”) as they marched through the desert.

NYC Mayor De Blasio Tells Police to End Arrests for Marijuana Smoking

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has told top brass at the city’s police department to stop arresting people who are caught smoking marijuana in public, according to a City Hall aide. Currently, smoking in public can lead to arrest, while possession of small amounts of marijuana can lead to a summons. This weekend, the mayor told the NYPD to issue summonses for smoking pot in public, instead of making arrests. The NYPD has…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2018/05/21/nyc-mayor-de-blasio-tells-police-to-end-arrests-for-marijuana-smoking…

Vicente Fox’s Global Vision: Legalization of All Drugs

In order to end the cartel violence in Mexico, former president Vicente Fox thinks all drugs should be legalized, what he calls “the whole enchilada.”

Don’t get Vicente Fox started on Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. Oh, why not?

“I just don’t like those two guys,” he says during a phone interview from his home base in the village of San Cristobal, in the state of Guanajuato about four hours northwest of Mexico City. “I don’t think the United States should be in the hands of those two guys. The November midterm elections are a great opportunity for the people of the United States to stop Trump from doing crazy things, to stop him through a strong liberal Congress, a Congress that looks to the future, not this blinded position of Trump looking at the past. He wants a very strong government that controls the borders and decides the fate of society and people. Your citizens should never accept that. The United States is the vanguard, the leader on developed thinking, on freedom of choice, on unity of purpose. This guy should be kicked out.”

Vicente Fox at press conference announcing the Canna Mexico World Summit on May 30-31.

The Canna Mexico World Summit, the international cannabis conference that Fox’s company Centro Fox is presenting on May 30-31 in San Cristobal, is just weeks away. This is the main reason for the phone call, to get the word out …

Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/18/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

Good news – on Thursday the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee for the first time heard and passed language, known as the Joyce amendment, to restrict funding for the Department of Justice to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana programs.

At the state level, Governor Jeff Colyer (R) of Kansas signed a bill exempting CBD from the definition of marijuana. Until then, Kansas was one of the four states in the US that had not reformed it’s marijuana laws to any extent. Now, it’s just down to three – South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska.

Additionally, Governor Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona signed hemp legislation into law, the Illinois Senate sent a bill allowing medical cannabis at schools to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), and Michigan’s House speaker said the legislature won’t take up marijuana legalization and will instead leave it up to the voters this November.

At a more local level, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn announced that with limited exception, low-level marijuana-related offenses would no longer be prosecuted. And The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home …

Blumenauer’s Canna-PAC Raising Money for Pro-Pot Candidates

Rep. Earl Blumenauer surrounded by High NY’s Mike Zaytsev (left) and Todd Hinden.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) talked up de-scheduling marijuana on a May 11 visit to Brooklyn to raise money for his new Cannabis Fund political action committee.

Blumenaeur, known for the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that prevents the federal government from prosecuting states with  legal medical cannabis programs, touched on a wide range of issues at the High NY event at WeWork in South Williamsburg.

Rather than changing cannabis’ current federal classification as a Schedule 1 drug to another schedule, Blumenauer advocates removing it as a controlled substance altogether. “This is within our capacity,” he told about 100 attendees. “If we get the politics right, have hearings and experts come in, it would probably not be scheduled at all within the course of the next five years. It can happen sooner. We’ll see states be allowed to treat cannabis the way they treat alcohol.”

Blumenauer’s Cannabis Fund PAC is backing pro-pot candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections. “I’m raising money to give to candidates who have the courage to say the right thing and to make it a little easier for them to step up,” he explained.

Medical Cannabis Patients, Medical Professionals, Advocates, and Industry Leaders Converge at National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference in D.C.

May 22 – May 25, 2018
Contact: Debbie Churgai | 202-857-4272 x.8 | debbie@safeaccessnow.org

WASHINGTON, DC — Starting on Tuesday, May 22nd and running until Friday, May 25th, medical cannabis patients, advocates, medical and legal professionals, and industry business leaders will gather at Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity conference in Washington, D.C. to learn and exchange ideas about how to navigate and steer medical cannabis policy in this ever-changing political landscape.

What: 6th Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC,
When: Tuesday, May 22nd through Friday, May 25th

This year’s conference will focus on the life-saving role that medical cannabis can play in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic. In 2017 ASA launched the End Pain, Not Lives campaign, to help protect current medical cannabis programs, remove barriers for people with pain, chronic pain, and Opioid Use Disorder, and to educate medical professionals, service providers, and patients about medical cannabis and pain.

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/unity18_press…