Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WW: The struggle to get vets some weed, D.A.R.E. gets fooled and Telsa's battery potential

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 3:45 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]

If you ever wonder if medical marijuana (more specifically, medical marijuana for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries) can be bipartisan, just look to Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley.

A freedom-loving, gun-toting, self-professed "Constitutional conservative," Shea gave an impassioned speech on the House floor last month against a bill that would require m
State Rep. Matt Shea speaking out for the right of veterans to some medicinal weed.
  • State Rep. Matt Shea speaking out for the right of veterans to some medicinal weed.
edical marijuana patients to register with the state. In the same speech, he mentioned that medical marijuana could help returning soldiers struggling with PTSD.

“Addressing that issue in the right way with medical marijuana, in some cases, dramatically reduces suicide rates,” he said, citing research showing that the substance can reduce deaths among veterans.

PTSD and traumatic brain injuries are now qualifying conditions for medical marijuana under a marijuana reform bill that passed the Washington State Legislature. 

However, Congress isn’t as eager to get returning soldiers some weed.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly voted down an amendment to an appropriations bill that would allow Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to discuss medical marijuana with patients, reports The Hill.

"Why in the world would we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited under Schedule I, that is not accepted for any specific mental disease or disorder and enhances psychosis and schizophrenia, why are we going to give that to our veterans, especially those with PTSD? That is just absolutely insane," said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., a physician, according to the paper.

Medical marijuana supporters were predictably bummed.

“While it’s disappointing that the House just voted to continue a senseless rules that prevents doctors from treating military veterans with a medicine proven to work for a number of serious conditions, the fact that we came so close is a good sign of things to come,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority in a prepared statement.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

“For every one joint of marijuana, four teenagers become burdened with pregnancy. And for every bag of marijuana candy sold, it seems 16 violent crimes in the 16-to-45-year-old cohort break down.”
That’s from a fake news article. D.A.R.E. thought it was a real article.

Some members of Congress think that the disturbances in Baltimore have something to do with the drug war.

Tesla, the maker of upscale electric cars, has developed a futuristic battery that can be used in the home. It’ll also be great to grow weed with.

A woman in Missouri is arguing that a “right to farm” enshrined in the state constitution extends to her marijuana crop.

A bill in Congress to help the marijuana industry more easily access banking services faces an uphill battle

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed legalization of pot in marijuana, is now saying it’s not such a big deal after all.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WW: Synthetic cannabinoids cause fear and loathing — not so much in WA

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 4:11 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]

“That shit will kill you,” is the response I get when I call up a local head shop and ask for Spice, a synthetic cannabinoid. Calls to other pipe shops and other weed-related establishments draw similarly perplexed responses when I call to ask if they sell Spice or any other synthetic cannabinoids. I’m still not sure where you can buy it in Spokane.

In Spokane, it might be hard to get your hands on synthetic cannabinoids — chemicals mixed with some plant matter to resemble marijuana — but other parts of the country are struggling with people getting high on the potent substance. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has seen a spike in recent years in the number of people nationally that are using the substance, which is often marketed as legal high.

Although it looks like marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids are significantly more toxic and their use can cause seizures, psychosis and even death. Most of the problems with synthetic cannabinoids appear to be occurring in states in back east, such as Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, New York and New Jersey.

“We’re not seeing the numbers they’re seeing on the East Coast,” says Alexander Garrard, clinical managing director of the Washington Poison Center.

According to Garrard, the number of calls to the center regarding exposure to synthetic cannabinoids has been on the decline. In 2011, the center received about 160 calls, he says. Last year, it received about 80.

Garrard says that the center has received calls from hospitals who’ve needed six people to restrain a patient having a violent reaction to synthetic cannabinoids. Some patients, he says, need to be placed on antipsychotics after their experience with the substance.

“It’s the type of patient that is very scary to treat,” he says.

Fortunately, he says synthetic cannabinoids never caught on with the drug-using community in Washington state. That might have something to do with people opting for legal weed over synthetics, but he doesn’t have evidence to directly correlate the two.

But the Washington State Legislature isn’t taking any chances and is considering legislation that will make synthetic cannabinoids along with cathinones and methcathinone, better known as “bath salts,” illegal.

Linda Graham, health policy and communications manager with the Spokane Regional Health District, says she doesn’t have any evidence that the use of synthetics is problem in Spokane. But she does note that companies will keep coming up with new chemicals that people will ingest.

“One of the things I’ve discovered is there are basically no limits on the degree to which people will go to get high or abuse their bodies,” says Graham. “It is truly amazing.”

Here’s the news elsewhere:

Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s independent socialist senator, is going to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s also open to legalization of marijuana.

Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow cannabidiol to treat seizures, which is not unlike the measure that failed to become law in Idaho.

Could marijuana legalization be on the ballot in Louisiana?

Two University of Akron students are developing a test to see if drivers have been using marijuana.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

In Idaho, resistance to marijuana runs deep

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 11:02 AM

In our current issue, we wrote about how New Approach Idaho, a group of pro-pot activists, is attempting to sidestep the legislature in the Gem State with an initiative that would legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize possession of the drug.

Although New Approach Idaho has a high bar to clear, it’s probably the only way the state’s pot laws will change because elected officials don’t want anything to do with marijuana.

Idaho is a conservative state to be sure. A Democrat hasn’t held the governor's office since 1995, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 65 percent of the vote in 2012 and both houses of the legislature are dominated by the GOP. But in other states where the GOP is the prevailing party, elected officials have been a bit groovier with marijuana.

Consider this: On April 16, Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed a medical marijuana bill passed by the Republican-dominated legislature. On the very same day, Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a significantly narrower bill that would allow for the use of cannabinol oil, which contains virtually no THC, to be used to treat children and others experiencing severe seizures. Both Utah, which has a sizable Mormon population, and Alabama allow medical use of CBD oil.

State Rep. Tom Loertscher, R- Iona, says after hearing “heart-wrenching” stories from families with severely epileptic children desperate for a therapy that would stop their debilitating seizures, he sponsored a bill allowing the therapy.

Lawmakers (who almost killed the bill) and the governor heard the same stories. But they also heard from law enforcement who said they would be burdened trying to differentiate CBD oil from other marijuana byproducts and from the state Office of Drug Policy, which called the therapy “unproven.”

“They think it’s the slippery-slope argument, that it’s the gateway to legalizing it in the state,” says Loertscher, who is also dead-set against medical marijuana, of the bill’s opponents.

State Rep.Vito Barbieri, R- Dalton Gardens, voted for the bill and was disappointed to see it vetoed. He says that medical marijuana is unlikely to become a reality in the state. In 2013, the legislature passed a resolution expressing that marijuana would never become legal for any reason.

“I think that it’s just been illegal for so long,” he says. “It’s a psychotropic and most of the members of the Legislature just don’t want to go there.”

Bill Esbensen, spokesperson for New Approach Idaho, attributes resistance among lawmakers and the governor to “ignorance and bigotry.”

“Prohibition has been thrust upon us for so long and so hard that it’s harder for these older legislative people, and they are older, to believe anything good about cannabis,” he says.

This blog has been updated to reflect the accurate date of when Idaho last had a Democratic governor. 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WW: DEA chief out, Kansan loses son over medical marijuana and ex-cops smoke weed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 2:22 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]

Embattled Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart is resigning over her handling of a sex scandal. Those familiar with her tenure at the agency know that she was an unflinching drug warrior, saying that the legalization of pot “just makes us fight harder.” Critics said that her stance on pot was out of step with that of President Obama, and now they are seeing opportunity to set a new course for the agency.

“Hopefully, her resignation will mark the end of the Reefer Madness era at the DEA,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Hill.

At times, she clashed with members of Congress for her stridently anti-pot views. Here’s a video of U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, trying to find out if she thought heroin and meth are more harmful than pot.


California could be one of the next states to legalize marijuana. Buf first, advocates have to figure how they’re going to do it.

Stock photos used by the media often aren't that flattering to stoners. So the Drug Policy Alliance made its own stock photos of normal people doing normal things, like smoking pot and playing Jenga.
The Ohio Rights Group, an organization seeking to legalize pot in the Buckeye State, is accusing a like-minded group of infiltrating it and stealing its donors.

In Kansas, a woman lost custody of her 11-year-old son after he defended medical marijuana in class.

Willie Nelson is launching his own brand of weed.

The Denver Police Department had this to say on 4/20:

They weren’t joking. They gave out 100-pot related tickets on that day.

Speaking of Denver, The Denver Post was Pulitzer Prize finalist for its series on families with children suffering from severe seizures who relocated to Colorado to use Cannabidiol as a treatment. It’s worth a read.

Lastly, here is a video of ex-cops smoking pot and giving each other sobriety tests.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WW: Leg enacts sweeping reform to state pot laws, Obama talks ganja in Jamaica

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 3:30 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]

After months of hearings, debates, amendments, votes and more hearings, marijuana as we know it is about to change in Washington state. Although the dust is still clearing, the cannabis business community is clearly pleased about this development, while medical marijuana advocates are calling on the governor to veto the legislation.

Yesterday, a final version of SB 5052 passed out the Senate and is on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee, who hasn’t definitively said if he will sign it.

One of the central goals of the bill is to bring the state’s freewheeling medical marijuana market under more regulation by combining it with the recreational market, all of which will be overseen by the newly redubbed Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board. The bill would also create a voluntary registry for patients and allows recreational stores to obtain a medical endorsement so they can serve medical patients.

Proponents of the bill say it’s needed to close down shady medical dispensaries that they say are undermining the recreational system by selling tax-free pot to non-patients. However, medical marijuana advocates have expressed concerns throughout the process that responsible dispensaries, which offer advice and medicinal products to patients in a way recreational stores can’t, would also be swept away.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WW: Pro-ganja members of Congress say feds have it all wrong on medical pot, Oregon's "ganja cops"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 1:47 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 U.S. Justice Department made clear last week that it won’t back off on prosecuting medical marijuana users despite Congress passing a budget amendment meant to block funding for federal law enforcement activities that “interfere” with state laws that sanction the medicinal use of pot. But the members of Congress who authored the budget amendment say the department has it all wrong.

When the budget rider passed back in December, there was hope that medical marijuana patients facing federal drug charges, such as the Kettle Falls Five, might see their cases dismissed. But the feds found enough wiggle room with the language of the rider to continue prosecuting the case (getting a partial conviction), even though marijuana is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes in Washington state.

Last week, a department spokesperson told the LA Times that the language of the budget amendment still allows for cases against individuals or organizations.

U.S. representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), responded by telling the Huffington Post, two members of Congress who authored the budget amendment, that the department is misinterpreting their amendment.

“The Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment defies logic," Farr told the Huffington Post. "No reasonable person thinks prosecuting patients doesn’t interfere with a state’s medical marijuana laws. Lawyers can try to mince words but Congress was clear: Stop going after patients and dispensaries.”

There is bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate intended to clarify the situation.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

In Oregon, medical dispensaries could start selling recreational pot this summer.

Just watch out for “ganja cops.”

The results of a new survey have found that voters in crucial presidential swing states support medical marijuana.
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Friday, April 3, 2015

No efforts planned to promote marijuana tourism in Washington

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 10:55 AM

If you’ve read this week’s paper, you’ll know that the legal ambiguity over what constitutes private or public when it comes to marijuana consumption can be a tricky subject for businesses wanting to accommodate stoners that just want a social space to light up.

With it being illegal to consume cannabis on the street, pot lounges being clouded by legal ambiguity and hotels generally frowning on smoking anything in their rooms, this issue is particularly acute for the state’s marijuana tourism industry as it seeks to accommodate visitors who might want to light up. Although travelers have come from all over the world to experience the Evergreen State’s pot and the state even has a commission to promote wine tourism, don’t expect Olympia to throw its support behind encouraging people to come to Washington to enjoy its cannabis anytime soon.

David Blandford, Washington Tourism Alliance board member and vice president of communications for Visit Seattle, says that ambiguity over what “public” means for the consumption of pot makes promoting marijuana tourism difficult. That issue aside, he says that promoting marijuana tourism is currently not on the WTA’s agenda because the organization is currently focused at the moment on securing long-term funding from the legislature.

He also says that there are concerns about restrictions on how marijuana can be advertised, and Blanford isn’t even sure that tourists would respond.

“I’m not aware of any research that there is a pot tourism market,” says Blanford. So far, he says, all the evidence has been anecdotal.
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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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