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Still-Divided Washington Readies for Start of Recreational Marijuana Sales

Category: News | Posted on Mon, July, 7th 2014 by THCFinder
recreational-marijuana-in-waVANCOUVER, Wash. — John Larson, a recently retired high school science and math teacher, hopes to be in the first wave of legal recreational marijuana salespeople opening shop here in Washington State this week.
 
Mr. Larson, 67, who was talked into the venture by his children, said he had never tried marijuana, and, in fact, voted against legalizing it in 2012. But as a business idea — well, that’s different.
 
“If people were dumb enough to vote it in, I’m all for it,” he said over a cup of coffee near his shop here in southern Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore. “There’s a demand, and I have a product.”
 
After nearly two years of anticipation, excitement and dread by still-divided Washington residents, the first licenses for legal sale of recreational marijuana will be issued Monday, state officials said. Sales are to start about 24 hours later.
 
But the rollout is not unfolding as anyone quite expected it to, from the seemingly unlikely businesspeople like Mr. Larson who are leading the charge to the downright odd pattern of where the first shops will open.
 
Seattle, for example, with a population of 652,000 the state’s largest city and perhaps most marijuana-friendly, will have only a single store initially, and a tiny one at that: 620 square feet, called Cannabis City. But Vancouver, about one-fourth Seattle’s size, in a largely conservative county that has tried to slow or stop marijuana businesses with strict land-use rules, could have three shops. Tacoma, also in a county that has tried to block marijuana businesses, may have four.
 
The pattern came down to chance and circumstance, said Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which wrote the regulations and administers the system. With multiple inspections and requirements to meet, “a lot of people weren’t ready,” Mr. Carpenter said.
 
Only about 20 licenses out of 334 authorized by the regulations will be granted in this first wave, Mr. Carpenter said, with many would-be operators slowed by financing troubles, inspection questions or other issues. Mr. Larson, for example, applied for three licenses in three cities, and two were denied, in each case because state inspectors said the boundary line was too close to a licensed day care center.
 
He disagreed, but quickly gave up: “You can’t argue with the state.”
 

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Cops Need Warrants To Search Cell Phones, Supreme Court Rules

Category: News | Posted on Mon, June, 30th 2014 by THCFinder
cops-cell-phone-searchesIn an unusual unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that police in almost all cases must obtain a search warrant before searching cell phones or other mobile devices. The ruling brings the huge amounts of data Americans store on cellphones, smartphones, and other mobile devices under the umbrella of constitutional privacy protections.
 
The decision came in two cases, one involving a drug bust and the other a weapons charge. The two cases were consolidated in the court’s opinion in Riley v. California.
 
In ruling in favor of Americans’ privacy, the high court rejected law enforcement arguments that cell phone searches did not require a warrant under an exception that allows police to search the contents of arrested people’s pockets to ensure that they are not armed or do not destroy evidence. While that may be convenient for law enforcement, the court held, constitutional rights trump convenience.
 
The court was clearly aware that modern hand-held devices contain both the quality and quantity of information deserving protection as much as that afforded to people’s personal property and effects in their homes.
 
“Modern cellphones aren’t a technological convenience,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life,’” he wrote.
 
As for law enforcement concerns that the court’s ruling would prove an obstacle to some police investigations, Roberts had a pithy retort: “Privacy comes at a cost,” he wrote.
 
And if police have reason to believe such devices may contain relevant evidence, they have recourse, Roberts wrote.
 
“Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cellphone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”
 
Of course, that means police must convince a magistrate they have probable cause to seek a search warrant.
 
The American Civil Liberties Union liked what it saw in the decision.
 
“By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans,” said ACLU legal director Steven R. Shapiro in a Wednesday statement. “We have entered a new world but, as the court today recognized, our old values still apply and limit the government’s ability to rummage through the intimate details of our private lives.”
 

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Republicans Vote To Block D.C.'s New Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Category: News | Posted on Fri, June, 27th 2014 by THCFinder
republicans-vote-to-block-mj-decrimWashington, D.C. – Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) prohibiting the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment is directed at a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.
 
“It is outrageous that members of Congress are trying to overturn a locally-enacted law that has the overwhelming support of D.C. voters and the D.C. Council,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance.  “That Rep. Harris is picking on a majority black district and no other jurisdiction with marijuana decriminalization is very telling. His own state has decriminalized marijuana but he’s not interfering with it.”
 
In 2013, a study released by the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital found that blacks are eight times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in D.C. than non-blacks. In fact, in 2010, blacks constituted 91 percent of all marijuana arrests in D.C – despite the fact that data show whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates.
 
The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014″ eliminates the threat of arrest for possessing marijuana and ensure that people are no longer saddled with life-long convictions that make it difficult to obtain employment and housing. Instead of arresting people, the bill would impose a $25 civil fine for possession as well as forfeiture of the marijuana and any paraphernalia used to consume or carry it.
 
This new law is viewed by D.C. lawmakers and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. By setting a $25 fine, which is the lowest civil fine for possession among eighteen states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, D.C. lawmakers cited the need to be responsive to social factors such as homelessness in the District and high rates of poverty in D.C. Wards that have seen the greatest number of marijuana arrests.
 
The D.C. law takes effect in a few weeks. The amendment passed by Committee Republicans wouldn’t take effect until later this year, assuming it passes the House and Senate and is signed by the president. Should this Republican-led amendment take effect later this year, it may interrupt enforcement by D.C. police officers of the civil fine and marijuana seizure provisions of the law.
 
“D.C. lawmakers recently decriminalized marijuana possession because the people of the District of Columbia demanded an end to the disproportionate arrest of African Americans for small amounts of marijuana,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Any effort by Congress that would block D.C.’s efforts to reform its marijuana laws denies the people of the Nation’s Capital the democratic right to pursue racial and social justice.”
 

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Colorado Plate Profiling

Category: News | Posted on Fri, June, 27th 2014 by THCFinder
colorado-plate-profiling
Colorado has legalized weed and everybody knows it. Not like they're keeping it a secret, right? While everything seems to be going very well there, things change once one crosses the borders in to other states... More specifically the illegal states, where marijuana use still isn't tolerated. Simply because of the license plate on your car, cops find any excuse to pull Colorado residents over. And for one man who took a trip to Idaho earlier this year, this exact situation arose and became a huge issue of what the man's attorney calls "license plate profiling". First of all, all cops should be aware that just because the car is from Colorado doesn't mean the driver smokes weed... Not everyone in the state is blazing now that the law says it's okay. The police in Idaho weren't thinking that when they pulled over Darien Roseen and not only unlawfully detained him but searched his vehicle for cannabis simply on the fact that Roseen had Colorado plates on his car.
 
The search was conducted over a year ago, January 25th, 2013 when Roseen (age 69) was on his way from his daughter's baby shower in Washington state to his other home located in Pagosa Springs. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year, against the police in Payette County, Idaho. Roseen's attorney said that his client was detained for hours while the cops dug through his Honda Ridgeline for the culprit of an apparent pot smell. Don't forget that at this time, cannabis was still not fully legal in Colorado but just allowed for medical patients. The laws had recently passed in those states but the recreational cannabis wouldn't be available for another year (effective Jan 2014).
 
Roseen was pulling off to use a rest stop around 11:40am off of I-84 when he passed a state trooper parked in the median. The trooper, Justin Klitch, followed Roseen to the parking lot and turned on the flashing lights, parked behind the truck, and walked up to the side of Roseen's truck. When questioned as to the nature of the flashing lights, Klitch reportedly didn't give the man a reason but eventually said that there had been no signal light used when Roseen pulled off in to the rest stop and that he had also hit two curbs when pulling in to the stop. Roseen insisted that he has used the signal and could not distinguish where the curbs were under the snow, not to mention he was distracted when the officer turned on the lights behind him.
 
Klitch refused to believe that Roseen was getting off the highway to use the restroom and instead, insisted that he had been attempting to avoid the state police. Klitch then questioned the driver on why his eyes were glassy and began to accuse him of transporting something "that he should not have in his vehicle". Roseen admitted that he had prescription medication from a doctor but no weed. However, Klitch kept pushing, asking the man "When is the last time you used marijuana?" Again and again, Roseen said that he didn't have any weed and had never even smoked. After being asked three times to search the vehicle, Roseen opened up a few places in the vehicle so he could "get back on the road faster". But the officer continued to say that he smelled the plant and used that as probable cause to search the vehicle, holding Roseen in the back of his cruiser, transporting him to the sheriff's office, and searching the Honda. Once at the station, Roseen was told that he could leave but couldn't have his car because they hadn't finished searching it. He was also given a citation for careless driving. There were at least eight officers that searched the vehicle from top to bottom and guess what? No illegal substances were found.
 
Plate profiling is something that Colorado residents really need to think about before leaving their state. As soon as you cross those borders, you're immediately in trouble if you're transporting marijuana. If you are a Colorado (or Washington) resident, please remember this when venturing out of your state. Do not carry marijuana with you in illegal states if you have certain license plates. Other cases have come forward to the same Boise law firm that handled Roseen's lawsuit, complaining of similar treatment at the hands of officers. Don't think for a second that it couldn't happen to you. Please be safe (and smart) when traveling!

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Laws Changing In LA

Category: News | Posted on Fri, June, 20th 2014 by THCFinder
la-marijuana-laws-changing
Unfortunately for the marijuana community in Los Angeles, California, their easily obtainable concentrates and edibles are on thin ice. The production of concentrated cannabis products has been under tough scrutiny, following a massive outbreak of butane hash oil explosions. These explosions, due to uneducated people attempting to make butane hash oil, have been giving concentrates a bad name. Pair that with the unfortunate incident in Colorado where edibles were suspect in a young man's suicide.
 
There is still hope though, for the stoners of LA. There is a bill that is being proposed that will regular the medical marijuana business with a little more structure. As of right now, it's difficult for people to gauge things like edible strengths, as most edibles are completely different in the amount of THC that they contain. The new bill is quite a bit different then the original, which was attempting to prohibit the kinds of marijuana that could be recommended by doctors and also which doctors could actually prescribe them. Add the concentrate ban to that and people were seriously pissed. The new bill is even being backed by California Police Chiefs Association, an interesting fact since the group has never really said anything in regards to marijuana before this.
 
Thankfully, the new bill won't ban concentrates or edibles and you'll be able to still get them in the city of LA. Since there are many patients that can't smoke or need the added strength of concentrates to alleviate their pain, a ban on such products would leave some people without their meds. It's great that the new bill will still allow these people to medicate like normal. And it is definitely important to have cannabis products labeled with the correct dosage and amount of THC, in case there are novice users around who are attempting to build a tolerance. Let's also hope that the risk of BHO explosions goes does, as the negative effects from such actions could definitely lead to laws banning concentrates in the future.

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Texas GOP Adds Hemp To Platform, Says No To Medical Marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Thu, June, 19th 2014 by THCFinder
texas-gop-adds-hempThe 2014 Texas GOP Convention wrapped up Saturday, June 7th, after a long week of debate and testimony concerning medical marijuana. Supporters of marijuana reform, including several members of RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) along with other medical marijuana advocates, including parents, veterans, and medical doctors, gave testimony in favor of an amendment to the platform in support of allowing Texans access to medical cannabis.
 
It seemed like a short-lived victory when the Temporary Platform Committee passed the amendment after listening to emotional testimony from those whose loved ones could benefit or have benefited from medical cannabis. The Chairman of the committee broke the tie and the amendment passed by a 15-14 vote. In addition, a plank supporting Hemp Cultivation passed the committee and made it into the final platform.
 
The following day, the Permanent Platform Committee met and voted on the medical marijuana amendment. This was the day I arrived at the convention after driving up to Fort Worth from Houston. My second time attending the Texas GOP Convention as a delegate, I was excited to hear about what was happening in the committees and was eager to help.
 
Rewind to August 2013 when I first met Ann Lee. After being involved with NORML for the past 4 years as a corporate sponsor to the legal seminars in Aspen and Key West, I had heard of Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, but I didn’t know the full extent of his story until hearing it from his mother. Ann Lee was visiting a group in Houston that several of my friends help organize called Liberty on the Rocks. Along with a representative from Houston NORML, originally co-founded by Richard Lee, Ann Lee spoke to us and her words resonated.
 
She told us about growing up in Louisiana during segregation (Ann Lee is in her mid-eighties, she’s even older than marijuana prohibition itself), and she spoke of how unfairly people were treated and how unfairly minorities are treated today due to the enforcement of marijuana prohibition. She told us about her 5 sons, including educator and entrepreneur Richard Lee, who was injured in a workplace accident, leaving him in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. She told us about being a Republican activist since the 1970s and how she co-founded the group “Women for Reagan” in 1983, the year I was born. She told us about her husband, Bob Lee, and how they had initially reacted when Richard told them he uses medical marijuana to help with his muscle spasticity and neuropathic pain.
 
Ann and Bob Lee founded RAMP in 2012. After much reflection, they had reached the conclusion that prohibition of marijuana is directly opposed to all of their Republican values. I was immediately intrigued upon learning about this. My interest in both party politics and marijuana policy were now being fused together by this idea. I immediately approached Ann and started asking her about RAMP. She handed me a little brochure with the Republican logo with three pot leaves instead of stars. My first thought was “OK, this organization really needs a new logo.”
 

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