Wednesday, April 1, 2015

WW: First Church of Cannabis forms, and is medical weed doomed in Oregon?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

In Indiana, cannaterians, adherents of a new church, say they can smoke pot in the state because of a new religious freedom law.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news over the last week, you’ve probably heard about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Signed by Gov. Mike Pence, it’s meant to protect the rights of religious people and prevents state or local governments from doing anything that will “substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion.”

The law provoked almost immediate backlash, with Apple CEO Tim Cook denouncing it along with a slew of state and local governments banning travel to Indiana.

But for pot smokers in the state, there could be a silver lining to the law.

Shortly after becoming law, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz posted a piece on suggesting that it had the effect of legalizing marijauna — for religious reasons. Citing spiritual traditions such as Rastafarianism or the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church that treat cannabis as a sacrament, Shabazz suggested that a church could be set up in Indiana that incorporates smoking weed into its tenets, giving its adherents a fighting chance of partially legalizing marijuana in a state that doesn’t sanction its use for medicinal or recreational reasons.

“You see, if I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scott-free,” he wrote.

The Washington Post reports that Bill Levin has filed paperwork, which has been approved by the Indiana Secretary of State, to set up the First Church of Cannabis.

According to the church’s GoFundMe page, which describes its adherents as “cannaterians,” the first of its 12 commandments is “don’t be an asshole.”

In Oregon, Willamette Week has obtained a memo that suggests that state officials secretly planned to put the state’s medicinal marijuana market under its recreational despite promises that wouldn’t happen. Sound familiar? 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says that marijuana taxes are “blood money.”

Colorado’s attorney general says there will be “chaos” if a lawsuit from neighboring Oklahoma and Nebraska challenging its pot legalization law prevails.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WW: Home-growing pot will probably remain illegal, marijuana arrests down in CO and pot's energy use

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 3:56 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

Four states and the District of Columbia have all legalized marijuana. But Washington state is the only one of these states that doesn’t allow people to grow their own crop - and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

The Washington State Legislature is likely going to pass a sweeping overhaul to the state’s pot laws, putting the relatively freewheeling medical marijuana market under the much more restrictive recreational market. But the bill leaves out one provision that some lawmakers think is much needed: the ability for Washingtonians to grow their own crop.

Earlier in the session, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle introduced a bill that would have comprehensively reformed the state’s pot laws, including language that would have allowed Washingtonians 21 and older to grow six plants and give up to an ounce to someone else (which they can’t currently).

However, Kohl-Welles' bill ended up stalling in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a competing bill from Sen. Anne Rivers, R- La Center, moved forward. Although Rivers bill is starting to increasingly resemble Kohl-Welles’ bill, it still doesn’t include a grow-your-own provision.

Kohl-Welles has introduced a bill that will explicitly allow people to cultivate their own stash. The preamble to the legislation points out that people can brew their own beer or make their own wine, but can't grow their own pot. But don’t break out the gardening supplies yet. Bills introduced this late in the session typically don’t go anywhere.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

Surprise! Since 2010, marijuana arrests in Colorado have gone down by 90 percent, according to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance. Despite having legalized pot, there are still some things that are illegal in Colorado (i.e. smoking in public) and these mostly petty charges persist for black people when compared to their white counterparts, according to the report.

In Ohio, a marijuana legalization campaign will begin collecting signatures.

Get ready for medical marijuana in Georgia.

New study: Growing marijuana uses up a lot of energy.

Remember Charlo Greene, the Alaska TV reporter who said a curse word and quit on air so she could focus her efforts on her medical marijuana club? Well, that club got raided.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WW: What the kids in WA think about pot, plus medical marijuana for pets in Nevada

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 4:03 PM

When Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, opponents proclaimed that more permissive attitudes towards pot would trickle down to the kids who would stumble through life a stoned daze and a Cheeto-beard forever marking their faces.

So what do the kids in the Evergreen State think about the pot? State officials decided to ask them.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Health released the results of its Healthy Youth Survey, which asked 200,000 students in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades in Washington state about their attitudes towards drugs and alcohol.

A press release accompanying the results of the survey states that teens in Washington state are increasingly viewing alcohol use to be risky and are drinking less. But state officials expressed alarm over the finding that fewer teens considered marijuana use to be risky.

“We’ve got to take the lessons learned about tactics that helped curb tobacco and alcohol use and put them to good use educating our kids about risks of using other substances,” said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a prepared statement. “This includes passing laws limiting youth access to vaping products and funding education campaigns to prevent under-age use of marijuana.”

Statewide, one in five 10th graders and one in four 12th graders used marijuana in the last month, rates that have stayed the same since 2010, while tobacco and alcohol use has gone down in recent years. Teens in these grades also consider the drug as less risky. In 2014, 36 percent of 10th graders considered marrijuana to be risky, down from 46 percent in 2012. For 12th graders, 26 percent found it to be risky in 2014 down from 43 percent in 2012.

So how did Spokane County stack up compared to the rest of the state with marijuana use? Here are some highlights:

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WW: Historic weed legislation, student gives teacher weed cookie and CO pot revenue

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 4:53 PM


Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

The big pot news this week was the historic introduction of legislation that would recognize medical marijuana at the federal level. On Monday, senators Rand Paul, R-Kentucky; Corey Booker, D- New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York introduced a bill that’s intended to remove the threat of federal prosecution currently hanging over patients, doctors and businesses in states with medical marijuana laws.

The bill matters because late last year Congress passed and the president signed into law a spending bill that contained a rider that prevented funds from being used by federal law enforcement to “interfere” with state medical marijuana laws.

The rider gave hope that people currently in jail or facing federal prosecution for growing or possessing medical pot would get off the hook. However, as evidenced in the outcome of the Kettle Falls Five case, which was widely viewed as a test to see how far the feds would go in chasing medical marijuana patients, the language in the rider left enough room for prosecutors to obtain a partial conviction.

The new legislation seeks to make it clear what the federal can and can’t do in the 23 states that have legal marijuana.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

A teen in Birmingham gave a teacher a weed-laced cookie.

A hacked street sign in Montana advises passersby to smoke weed everyday.

Six sheriffs in Colorado are suing the governor over legal pot.

The FDA sent letters to producers of CBD-based products telling them to cease making claims about the medical efficacy of their products.

Indian tribes seeking to grow pot have launched a trade group.

Legal pot in Colorado generated $2.3 million in tax revenue for schools.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WW: Kettle Fall Five (Three?) verdict, God wants legal pot in Texas

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

The big pot news this week was the verdict in the Kettle Falls Five (now Kettle Falls Three) case. The case was viewed as a barometer of how far the feds could and would go in prosecuting people for pot-related activities sanctioned at the state level but illegal at the federal level. It turned out that federal law enforcement would go pretty far, but not as far as they would have liked.

The case involves an Eastern Washington family that was busted on federal pot charges for growing medical marijuana. Although medical marijuana is legal in Washington state, and it became legal for recreational purposes since their initial arrest, U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby pursued federal charges against the family related to firearms and criminal conspiracy, as well as growing and distributing marijuana.

Although Congress passed legislation intended to defund federal law enforcement activities that “interfered” with state pot laws, the judge allowed the case to proceed anyways. Larry Harvey, faced with terminal illness, saw his charges dropped, and Jason Zucker, a friend of the family who was facing a potentially stiffer sentence because of prior pot convictions, took a plea deal.

According to to the Spokesman-Review, the jury gave the defendants a partial victory, dropping all the charges except for manufacturing. The prosecution unsuccessfully asked the judge to have the defendants arrested and jailed. Sentencing is in June, the paper reports.

"The jury saw through the deceit of the federal government and rightly acquitted on almost all charges," said Kris Hermes, spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, in a prepared statement. "This should signal to the Department of Justice that prosecutions such as the Kettle Falls Five are a waste of time and money and, if anything, should be left to state courts." Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the government exercised its prosecutorial discretion to exclude all evidence from trial related to medical necessity and compliance with state law.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

A man in Washington D.C., which recently (sort of) legalized marijuana, walked into a police station and asked for his stash back.

Six in 10 young Republicans favor legalizing weed, according to a new poll.

According to a guest on Fox News, “crack babies” come from women “smoking this whole marijuana business.”

Texas lawmaker: “God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix.”

Shootings in New York City have increased, in part, because of legalized pot, according to the city’s police commissioner.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WW: Weed bills that made the cut and marijuana news elsewhere

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 11:32 AM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

Last week was the cutoff for any new policy bills in the Washington State Legislature. Any bills that didn’t make it out of committee by Feb. 20 are likely dead for the session. Although many bills were introduced, only a handful will become law. Here are the marijuana bills that made the first cut and might just be signed into law.

HB 2000 authorizes the governor to enter into agreements with federally recognized tribes concerning marijuana.

BB 5002 requires drivers to stow away their marijuana while driving

SSB 5051 allows people in the marijuana business to transfer product between one another.

SB 5121 allows people to grow marijuana for research purposes.

SB 5130 prohibits marijuana businesses from being in the proximity of many places children congregate, including arcades (do those still exist?)

SB 5379 adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

SB 5398 prohibits eating pot food in public.

SB 5401 allows the Liquor Control Board to accept grants and donations to help with weed-related educational efforts.

SB 5402 imposes penalties on adults who help kids acquire pot.

SB 5467 Changes how recreational marijuana is taxed.

SB 5052 overhauls the state’s pot laws putting the largely unregulated medical marijuana market in harmony with the tightly regulated market.

SB 5519 is another bill with the same goal. It’s sponsored by a Democratic state senator and, while it isn’t getting as much traction as the other bill, the two are starting to look a lot alike.

SB 5493 exempts cannabis beauty and health products from the same regulations placed on recreational pot.

SB 5673 would make synthetic cannabinoids, a substance that mimic pot’s effects, illegal.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

Researchers at Yale think they have figured out why weed gives you the munchies.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is also the front-runner in the race for U.S. Senate in her state, is pretty much cool with marijuana legalization.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress that would legalize recreational marijuana.

Marijuana is a pretty low-risk recreational drug compared to pretty much everything else, according to a recent study.

Ohio’s attorney general is harshing on efforts to legalize pot in the state.

Get ready for kosher pot food.

Get ready for legal pot in Washington D.C. (sort of).

Get ready for legal pot in Alaska.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WW: Marijuana in Indian Country, overhaul of WA pot laws and smoking doobies in the White House

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

As we’ve previously written, the legislature is in session and lawmakers are scrambling to pass a slew of bills that would each change what people legally can and can’t do with pot in Washington state.

The sea of pot legislation introduced this session includes a pair of bills which appear to have legs and haven’t received much attention that would pave the way for the state’s 29 federally recognized Indian tribes to begin growing and selling marijuana on their lands. The issue matters because in December, the federal government announced that Indian tribes could grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as it was regulated.

Scott Wheat, general counsel for the Spokane Tribe of Indians, points to what’s widely known as the “Cole memo,” a U.S. Justice Department document that was circulated to federal law enforcement after Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, for why this legislation is needed. The memo basically says that the feds will mellow on states legalizing marijuana as long as they have strong regulatory structures in place that prevent the drug from falling into the hands of organized crime or minors, among other safeguards.

“So concern is that if tribes enter the marijuana economy they do so with a strong regulatory structure,” says Wheat.

There’s a version of the bill in the House and another in the Senate. The House version has already cleared a few legislative hurdles. If it passes, it would allow the governor to hash out agreements with the state’s federally recognized Indian tribes regarding pot. These agreements would cover criminal and civil law enforcement, taxation, public health and other issues.

“Without the framework of a compacting system I think it’s problematic in a couple different ways,” said Rep. Christopher Hurst, D- Enumclaw, the sponsor of the bill in a legislative hearing.

Although the Justice Department gave the green light to tribes to grow marijuana, many have had issues with drug and alcohol use and are reluctant to embrace another substance. The Yakima Tribe, for instance, has sought to ban all pot businesses within its territory. Other tribes, like California’s Pinoleville Pomo Nation are moving forward with plans to start growing medical marijuana, and 100 other tribes have expressed interest in the pot business.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

A bill overhauling Washington state’s medical and recreational marijuana systems has passed the Senate.

Critics of the legislation are worried that it will make medical marijuana less accessible. In Uruguay, a South American country that legalized marijuana, similar concerns are being realized as medical pot has already become more expensive than recreational.

Apple changed its mind and will allow pot-related apps on iTunes.

In honor of President’s Day, The Daily Beast has an article that suggests that many U.S. presidents smoked pot.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WW: Kettle Falls Five prosecutor frets, Cannabis Cup winners and Bob's b-day

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 4:24 PM

The prosecution in the Kettle Falls Five case, which involves a family of medical marijuana patients who are facing federal drug charges, is worried that the jury will ignore the law and vote to acquit the defendants in order to send a social message, according to a motion filed by U.S. attorneys on February 10.

The motion also really doesn’t want the defense or anyone else to talk about medical marijuana during court proceedings. Medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though 23 states, including Washington, legitimize its use. Because the case is in federal court, the defendants aren’t allow to discuss medical marijuana at all, giving the prosecution a straight shot at putting the family in jail for possibly 10 years each.

The motion raises concerns that the defense is attempting jury nullification, where jurors deliberately reject evidence and legal standards in order to send a message about some issue. Pointing to a recent article on by libertarian writer Jacom Sullum that quotes Phil Telfeyan, one of the defense attorneys for the family, the motion suggests that even though medical marijuana can’t be mentioned in proceedings, jurors will read about this aspect of the case beforehand and vote to acquit: 
The United States believes this indicates the Defendants are attempting to engage in jury nullification – by circumventing the Court’s previous Order and attempting to provide the jury with evidence by “planting the seed” and hoping it will germinate in the jury deliberation room into a discussion of issues which the Court has already ruled are not relevant to this case and should be not considered by the jury. The law in this area is straightforward, it is improper for a Defendant to suggest in any way that the jury should acquit the Defendant even if it finds the United States has met its burden of proof. 
In other news:

The winners of the High Times SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup are in.

A federal study has found that driving stoned is probably fine.

A new Tinder-style app called “High There” helps marijuana-friendly singles meet.

Facing the prospect of fines and jail time, D.C. lawmakers and staff aren’t moving forward with hearings on legal pot.

The Jamaican Senate passed a bill that decriminalizes marijuana on Bob Marley’s birthday.

But remember that decriminalization is not legalization, so:

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dave's not here, man, but Cheech & Chong are coming to Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 3:52 PM

In the late '70s and early '80s, it was hard to find a hotter comedy act than the duo of Cheech & Chong, unless you count the time Richard Pryor set himself on fire

The stoner comics took a nightclub act and turned it into a pop cultural force, creating hit movies and best-selling albums (including that famous "Dave" sketch) that gave every serious weedhead and occasional dabbler a reason to laugh the night away before hitting the Cheetos. 

After their creative partnership seemingly dried up, the two split in the late '80s, with Cheech Marin going on to some mainstream success in movies like Tin Cup and on shows like Nash Bridges, while Tommy Chong hit the road to do standup and created a line of pot-related products. That business eventually got him in trouble thanks to some overzealous California law enforcement, landing Chong in jail for nearly a year

When he got out, his old buddy Cheech was ready to get the act back together, and Cheech & Chong have been pretty much touring the casino and theater circuit ever since. 

They will hit the Coeur d'Alene Casino on Thursday, March 5, along with WAR, the killer Latin-funk outfit that provided the soundtrack to some of Cheech & Chong's most memorable movie scenes with their tune "Low Rider." Tickets for the show are on sale now for $45 and $55, via TicketsWest. 

This clip from Up In Smoke shows how well the comedy team and WAR go together: 

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WW: Feds won't drop Kettle Falls Five case; Nancy Grace talks Dr. Drew's 'big fat doobie'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 2:40 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at: [email protected]

Late last year, Congress passed a massive spending bill that contained just a few lines of text that was intended to send a clear message: Federal law enforcement agencies need to quit interfering with state medical marijuana programs. To that end, a paragraph included in the bill stated that no funding was to be used by federal law enforcement agencies to interfere with medical pot in states where it’s legal.

The legislation, signed into law by the president, had particular significance for the Kettle Falls Five, an Eastern Washington family that is facing serious federal drug charges (under which pot is completely illegal) for growing marijuana that they assumed was legal under their state program.

With Congress sending a message that they don’t want federal law enforcement going after medical marijuana, the family’s lawyer filed a motion last month to dismiss the case. The motion argued that the prosecution was in conflict with congressional intent, and it cited floor speeches by members of Congress stating that people using medical marijuana under their state law should be left alone by the feds.

But the prosecutors haven’t given up yet.

A response filed by U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby on January 29 argues that the family shouldn’t be off the hook because there is evidence to show that the family was actually running a criminal for-profit operation under the guise of medical marijuana.

“It is clear that the defendants are hiding behind the medical marijuana laws in Washington in order to profit from their manufacture of marijuana. It is clear that they have violated both state and federal law,” reads the response.

Citing floor speeches from members of Congress who supported the amendment to the budget bill, Ormsby argues that the legislative intent was to protect physicians and patients prescribed the drug from prosecution.

“It is clear that there is still a political debate regarding marijuana,” reads the response. “This amendment has said nothing about the Controlled Substances Act so it is clear that it is still a violation of federal law to manufacture or distribute marijuana. The new law is intended to help patients and doctors and promote research into the uses of marijuana. It is not intended to protect or shield criminals from federal prosecution.”

Continue reading »

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