Slowly But Surely, Cannabis Licenses Are Being Issued in Jamaica

Though many have the perception that Jamaica is all about free-flowing cannabis, that’s not officially the case. It’s true that the country’s tropical climate and fertile soil provide perfect conditions to grow ganja, and that reggae music and Rastafarian religious practices exalt the herb. But Jamaica’s government has opposed its use throughout most of the country’s history.

Cannabis was originally brought to Jamaica by East Indian laborers (who called it ganja) in the mid-1800s. By the 1930s, the plant had become widely used in the culture and a foundation of Rastafarian religious practices, even though the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1913 (a.k.a. the Ganja Law) made possession, cultivation and trafficking of marijuana illegal, with harsh prison sentences for violators.

Cultural perceptions became more permissive in the 1960s and 1970s, especially as Rastafarian and outspoken spliff-lover Bob Marley became Jamaica’s best-known citizen abroad, his music bringing the island nation’s culture to the world. But with Jamaica becoming a major exporter of ganja to Europe and North America, officials rejected attempts to relax the laws, for fear of violating international treaties.

It wasn’t until 2015 that the Dangerous Drugs Act was amended to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Now, possession of up to two ounces is a petty offense, and cultivation of five or fewer plants per household is legal. Adult Rastafarians are permitted to use cannabis for religious purposes. The 2015 amendment also made medical cannabis legal and …

ASA Activist Newsletter – 2017 Year in Review

In the January 2018 Issue

  • DOJ Memo on Prosecutions Rescinded; Temporary Protections Remain
  • ASA Launches Campaign on Cannabis as a Tool in Opioid Crisis
  • Veterans Administration Loosens Cannabis Policy
  • WHO Initial Report Says CBD Needs No Restrictions
  • DEA Yields to Pressure, Removes Misinformation on Cannabis
  • ASA National Unity Conference a Success
  • ASA’s Annual Report on State Medical Cannabis Programs Finds Improvements
  • State & International Developments
  • ASA’s Patient Focused Certification Going Global
  • ACTION ALERT: Send Congress Your Story Today!


Vermont Is the First State to Legalize Marijuana Through Legislation

Vermont made national headlines and was the subject of late-night talk show jokes on Jan. 10 when the state Senate approved a bill to legalize adult use of marijuana. While the measure would not allow legal sales, the Green Mountain State is poised to make history as the first in the nation to legalize marijuana by legislation instead of popular vote.

It will become the ninth state in the country to allow recreational marijuana when Republican Gov. Phil Scott signs the bill this week, as he’s promised. The only thing standing in the way of Vermont legalizing weed would be an unforeseen technical error in the bill’s drafting.

The legislation would let adults over 21 possess up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hash, and cultivate up to two mature and four immature plants at home. It would remain illegal to smoke pot in a public place or while driving.

However, the bill doesn’t permit commercial sales. Still, entrepreneurs there think a regulated market is inevitable. In fact, Gov. Scott’s Marijuana Advisory Commission has been studying cannabis sales and is set to issue a report on Jan. 15.

Marijuana Law Reform Efforts Advance in States Despite a Hostile Attorney General

As tensions between AG Sessions and federal lawmakers continues to grow, proponents of marijuana legalization are finding new allies in state legislatures around the country. Despite last week’s move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind the Cole Memo, a 2013 DOJ memorandum that allowed state sanctioned marijuana business to thrive despite the quagmire between state and federal laws, lawmakers in several states are advancing marijuana reform legislation.

Reject AG Sessions’ Efforts to Revert to the Failed Criminal Policies of the ‘Just Say No’ Era.

Within hours of the rollout of the DOJ’s new policy, lawmakers in Vermont passed a depenalization bill out of the House and Senate with overwhelming support and it’s now headed to Governor’s office. With Governor Scott already promising to sign the measure into law, it’s safe to say that Vermont will surely be the newest thorn in the side of an already agitated Sessions. As if the news from Vermont isn’t frustrating enough for the Attorney General, House lawmakers in New Hampshire also passed legislation that would legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up. And Thursday, members of the New York State Assembly heard hours of testimony in support of adult use regulation.

In addition to the advancement of marijuana law reform legislation in Vermont and New Hampshire, a number of other states such as Kentucky, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, New Hampshire, Virginia, Missouri and New …

Rev. Al Sharpton: ‘Weed Must Be Decriminalized’

It took a while for the Rev. Al Sharpton to jump aboard the legalization movement’s soul train. The founder of the National Action Network and MSNBC talking head had long protested pretty much every issue that affects people of color, except for the drug issue.

I’ve known Sharpton since the late ’70s, when I was a young music journalist and he was one of the great R&B star James Brown’s best friends. After writing a cover story about the Godfather of Soul for New York’s Soho Weekly News in 1979, I had terrific access to Soul Brother No. 1. I met Sharpton on many occasions in the company of Brown, and wrote about it in my 1988 New York magazine article, “The Reverend and the Godfather.”

That same year I started working for High Times. Marijuana had become my beat.

Al Sharpton James Brown

James Brown and Rev. Al Sharpton in the late ’70s

About 12 years ago, I ran into Sharpton in New York’s Hilton Hotel. He was heading up an escalator and asked what I was up to when he saw me. I told him I now had a job as an editor at High Times.

Sixty-nine Members Of Congress Sign Letter To Congressional Leadership


Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)

Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions recent actions, it is time to expand similar protections to states that have also legalized the use and sale of marijuana to all adults now that one in five Americans resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.

Known as the McClintock-Polis amendment, after Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), the amendment would simply remove the word medical from the current Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language.

The fix would literally be that simple to give breathing room to state-lawful programs.

In a letter to Congressional leadership authors by McClintock and Polis, co-signed by 67 other Representatives from both political parties, the members call for the amendment to be included in any future spending bill.

In the one day that the letter was going around the hill, NORML members and supporters drove in nearly 5,000 messages to Congress and countless phone calls in support of their Representative signing on.

“For several …

New House Legislation To Stop Jeff Sessions

Representative Barbara Lee

Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK today filed a resolution, HR 4479, prohibiting the federal government from taking punitive action against those operating in states where the use and distribution of marijuana is legal.

NORML is pleased to have worked with Rep. Lee’s office in drafting the language of HR 4779, which “protects individuals in states that have laws which permit the use of cannabis” for either medical or recreational purposes. Specifically, HR 4779 bars federal funding for any efforts that seek to “detain, prosecute, sentence, or initiate civil proceedings against an individual, business or property that is involved in the cultivation, distribution, possession, dispensation, or the use of cannabis in accordance with the law or regulation of the state or unit of local government in which the individual is located.”

It also prohibits the federal government from taking any punitive action against a financial institution “solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity” that is involved in state-sanctioned marijuana-related activities.

Take action today to tell Congress to support HR 4779!

With the Justice Department having rescinded Obama-era directives limiting the federal government’s involvement in marijuana states, and with the future of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment uncertain, it is pivotal that you urge your elected officials to act on HR 4779.


Vermont: Governor Announces He Will Sign Marijuana Depenalization Measure

thumbs_upRepublican Gov. Phil Scott publicly announced at a news conference that he intends to sign legislation into law legalizing the use and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults. The Governor vetoed similar legislation last year.

House Bill 511 eliminates existing civil penalties specific to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and also removes criminal penalties with regard to the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). Those who cultivate marijuana for their own personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest.

The measure also imposes new civil penalties for consuming cannabis while driving, and imposes additional penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle impaired with a minor in the vehicle.

“We’ll take a look at it to make sure it’s technically correct, and then I’ll sign the bill,” Scott said during a Statehouse press conference yesterday. “This is a libertarian approach. I’ve said I’m not philosophically opposed to it. I know there are diverse opinions … as to whether we should move forward, but I still firmly believe that what you do in your own home should be your business, as long as it doesn’t affect someone else.”

Vermont will be the first state to legislatively act to eliminate both criminal and civil penalties for personal marijuana possession and growing.

Once signed, the new law will take effect July 1, 2018.


Sunrise Genetics Partners With RPC, Begins Genetic Testing in Canada

Sunrise Genetics, Inc., the parent company of Marigene and Hempgene, announced their partnership with New Brunswick Research & Productivity Council (RPC) this week, according to a press release. The company has been working in the United States for a few years now doing genomic sequencing and genetic research based in Fort Collins, CO. This new partnership, compliant with Health Canada sample submission requirements, allows Canadian growers to submit plants for DNA extraction and genomic sequencing.

Sunrise Genetics researches different cannabis cultivars in the areas of target improvement of desired traits, accelerated breeding and expanding the knowledge base of cannabis genetics. One area they have been working on is genetic plant identification, which uses the plant’s DNA and modern genomics to create authentic, reproducible, commercial-ready strains.

Matt Gibbs, president of Sunrise Genetics, says he is very excited to get working on cannabis DNA testing in Canada. “RPC has a long track record of leadership in analytical services, especially as it relates to DNA and forensic work, giving Canadian growers their first real option to submit their plant samples for DNA extraction through proper legal channels,” says Gibbs. “The option to pursue genomic research on cannabis is now at Canadian cultivator’s fingertips.”

Canada’s massive new cannabis industry, which now has legal recreational and medical use, sales and cultivation, previously has not had many options for genetic testing. Using their genetic testing capabilities, they hope this partnership will better help Canadian cultivators easily …

The grass is green for careers in cannabis research

By Beryl Lieff Benderly for Science Magazine

Growing up with a close relative who used marijuana before legalization to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition inspired [Dr. Jahan] Marcu’s fascination with the plant’s relationship to the human body. Having researched cannabinoids’ anticancer activity as a technician and the structure, function, and signaling of cannabinoid receptors, especially in bone, for his Ph.D. dissertation, he now focuses on developing and implementing recognized, science-based standards to assure that the medicine sold is safe, pure, and what it purports to be.


Vermont Senate Approves Legalization of Marijuana Possession and Cultivation, Awaits Governor’s Signature

thumbs_upToday, the Vermont state Senate approved a measure that would legalize the possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana. Under this legislation, H. 511, individuals 21 years of age or older would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a limited amount for personal use.

“While prohibitionists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions desperately try to force our country to return to the dark ages, his flailing seems to be for naught, as Vermont is now positioned to be the first state to legalize marijuana possession by legislative action,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “The American people have made their position clear, it is time to move away from the failed policies of the past and to move in the sensible direction of legalization. Vermont will likely be the first state to take such an action this year, it is unlikely to be the last with New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut and others likely to give legalization legislation serious consideration during the 2018 legislative session.”

H. 511 was approved by the state’s lower chamber last week in a 81-63 vote. Now that it has passed the state Senate, the bill will be sent to Governor Phil Smith for his signature. Despite vetoing a similar effort last year, Governor Smith has stated he would likely sign this renewed effort.

Passage of legalization in Vermont in 2018 would be a legislative first. To date, all eight …

Israel’s Tikun Olam Making Moves in the U.S. and Canada

In Hebrew, “tikun olam” means to repair the world. It’s a major precept of Judaism—and it’s also the name of Israel’s most prominent medical- marijuana company, now planting seeds around the globe. In the United States, it already has retail outposts in Nevada and Delaware.  

Tikun Olam, which was founded in 2007, controls nearly 40% of the Israeli medical-marijuana market. Medicinal cannabis is fully legal in Israel and supported by both the government and academia. In fact, THC and various other compounds in the cannabis plant were discovered in Israel by now 87-year-old chemist Raphael Mechoulam, who continues to work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“We’re actively working toward developing new genetics to work on efficacy and assist the patients in Israel still operating with our nurse-run clinics in order to better provide the right dosage and strains for the patients who are referred to us by the Ministry of Health,” Stephen Gardner, Tikun Olam’s chief marketing officer, tells Freedom Leaf. “We’re also continuing to do some other clinical trials in Israel, specifically with our strains.”

In addition to flower, Tikun’s product line includes tinctures and concentrates.

Because the Israeli medical-marijuana program fosters collaboration among cultivators and researchers, Tikun Olam has been able to develop various strains to treat the specific needs of the more than 10,000 patients who’ve signed up to use the company’s products over the past decade. Under the Israeli program, patients must commit to a …

Hey Kansas State Rep. Steve Alford: You’re a Racist

On Jan. 6, at a town hall meeting in Garden City, Kansas, state Rep. Steve Alford (R-Ulysses) was asked a question about legalizing cannabis in the state. Finding his inner Harry J. Anslinger, Alford offered a ridiculous answer:

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States. What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst to all those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

Bruh. Seriously? Blacks can’t handle their weed? I’m sure Snoop Dogg would like to challenge you to a smokeout. I wonder what drug Mr. Alford was on when he made this statement? My guess is he was probably crossfaded: He got drunk on racism, snorted a little privilege to smooth it out, then opened his big fat racist mouth to spew a stream of bullshit.

I’m not surprised he said it. I mean, you can’t swing a dead blunt without hitting a racist politician in Kansas (cough, Kris Kobach, cough). I’m just upset that he got it all wrong. First of all,swhite folks use marijuana at a higher rate than black folks, so it isn’t black people that can’t handle their pot. Second, the reason

Can veterans be penalized for using pot? Answer is hazy

By Libby Denkmann for 89.3 KPCC

“As long as there’s a federal conflict with state laws, any patient has significant reason to be worried,” said David Mangone, legislative counsel for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. He added, while the danger of criminal prosecution is low, “any recreational user who receives federal benefits, they do run the risk of being subject to federal prosecution even if they are complying with state law.”


New Hampshire House Votes to Legalize Marijuana Possession and Cultivation

legalization_pollThis morning, in a direct rebuke to the bluster coming from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 207 to 139 in favor of a measure that would legalize the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of 3 mature plants for adults 21 years of age or over. This legislation is similar to a measure passed by members of the House of Representatives in neighboring Vermont last week. Both measures now await action by their respective state Senates, with a vote in Vermont expected for later today.

A broader legalization bill, which included commercial cultivation and retail sales, was voted down in a New Hampshire House committee last November. Today, state Representatives voted to overturn that initial vote and amended that legislation to only include the legalization of personal possession and cultivation. Currently, there is a standing legislative study committee in the state that is researching and reviewing the potential of legalized commercial marijuana in New Hampshire and is expected to give recommendations later this year.

“Despite the best attempts by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to intimidate state governments, the recent votes in Vermont and New Hampshire demonstrate that legislators are ignoring this bluster and are standing up for the will of the people,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “An overwhelming majority of Americans want to see marijuana legalized and their elected …

Kansas State Representative Defends Prohibition, Goes Full Racist

At an event over the weekend, Kansas State Representative Steve Alfond (R) defended the continuation of marijuana prohibition by reverting to the kind of overtly racist rhetoric originally deployed by Henry Anslinger when this failed policy was first implemented.

It is important to remember: Marijuana prohibition perpetuates institutional racism and is itself being perpetuated by racists.

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas (and) across the United States,” Kansas Rep. Steve Alford said. “What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

Watch the video:

Read more here.

Help us fight back against this unacceptable and disgusting ideology. Click HERE to send your Senators a message in support of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would deschedule marijuana and begin to dial back the devastating impact our nation’s war on marijuana has had on communities across the country.


Medical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions’ guidance

By Jen Christensen for CNN

“I’m very nervous,” [Steph Sherer] said. The Drug Enforcement Administration “is run out of Washington, and while they are supposed to serve states’ attorneys general, the DEA doesn’t need their permission to do anything in those districts.”


Survey: Cannabis Industry Not Immune to Sexual Harassment

The 2017 Diversity in Cannabis survey, conducted by New Frontier Data and Women Grow, sheds light on the current state of diversity within the legal industry and provides insight into the types of challenges faced by its growing workforce. More than 1,700 participants completed the survey, allowing for a broad range of perspectives on issues from their reasons for joining the cannabis industry to their experiences with gender and racial discrimination.

While the cannabis industry has been successful in providing additional opportunities for women and minorities, it still has some of the key characteristics of a startup industry in a nascent space. Key issues facing employees include low pay and limited benefits, if any. Additionally, the industry is largely made up of privately held companies, as individual corporate growth has been constrained by federal prohibition.

While the industry shows high levels of gender diversity (relative to other industries), the same cannot be said for its racial diversity. Among the survey respondents’ companies, women occupy positions of power and are included in positions across all levels of the organization. However, comparatively, racial minorities constitute very few positions of upper management and ownership.

While the cannabis industry shows high levels of gender diversity, the same cannot be said for its racial diversity.

With 40% of respondents saying they’ve invested in cannabis companies, and nearly 60% reporting they took equal or less pay when they joined the industry, the workforce in cannabis is

Democrats and Republicans Reject Recent Action by AG Sessions


Following yesterday’s announcement by the DOJ that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era memorandum issued by Attorney General James Cole in 2013, federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle quickly denounced the decision.

Reject AG Sessions Efforts to Revert to the Failed Criminal Policies of the ‘Just Say No’ Era

In addition to taking to the floor of the Senate to express his frustrations, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) continued to vent on Twitter. He had this to say:

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.”

Sharing some of the same frustrations as her counterpart in the Senate, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) shared the following in a email to supporters:

“Sessions’ actions to protect the bottom lines of the for-profit private prison industry, and Big Pharma whose opioids and drugs flourish in part due to the marijuana prohibition, while trampling on states’ rights and turning everyday Americans into criminals, is the latest injustice that the Attorney General has suffered on the American people.”

Being the cosponsor of pending legislation, that if passed by Congress would stop AG Sessions in his tracks, Representative Gabbard also took a minute to encourage support for her bill, HR 1227:

“I am calling on every member of Congress to take …