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Dutch DELAY plan to weed out tourists

Category: News | Posted on Fri, December, 16th 2011 by THCFinder
The Dutch government is delaying plans to ban tourists from buying marijuana until at least next May, although it still intends to curtail the country's famed tolerance policy.
 
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police turn a blind eye to possession of small amounts and it is sold openly in designated cafes known euphemistically as ''coffee shops''. Large-scale growers are prosecuted.
Among other measures, the cabinet wants to introduce a ''weed pass'' system that allows only legal residents of the Netherlands to buy marijuana.
 
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said a trial in southern cities planned for next month would be delayed until May because of practical difficulties.
 
Supporters hope it will solve problems caused by about 3.9 million French, German and Belgian buyers who drive across the Dutch border each year just to buy the drug.
 
Mr Opstelten said the pass system would be applied nationwide in 2013, despite some opposition. ''Coffee shop'' owners say it will violate privacy laws, since it will require them to store passport and other information about customers.
 
Some southern cities have begun lobbying against the plan after predictions that it would result in street dealers taking over the marijuana trade again, as it was three decades ago when the tolerance policy was introduced.
 
''If it appears that additional [police] support is necessary, I will ensure that it's available in a timely manner,'' Mr Opstelten said.
 
The city of Amsterdam also opposes the pass plan, because it would mean the closure of about half the city's ''coffee shops''. It says nearly a quarter of the tourists who visit to smoke weed stay several nights and contribute to the economy rather than cause problems.
 

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Medical marijuana lawyer: Health dept. can't deny cards over physician assistants

Category: News | Posted on Fri, December, 16th 2011 by THCFinder
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has announced that it may deny thousands of medical marijuana applications over questions about whether physician assistants did exams -- a policy CDPHE's Dr. Chris Urbina reiterated in a recent interview. But MMJ lawyer Rob Corry calls the action improper and argues that the department is tossing the applications too late.
 
The CDPHE put the applications on hold, some for months, after staffers noticed that certain medical marijuana recommendation forms featured signatures of both doctors and physician assistants. If the latter actually performed the examination leading to a recommendation, the department believes this action would violate state law calling for a bona fide relationship between doctors and MMJ patients. If that's proven to be the case, the CDPHE will deem such applications fraudulent and deny them. If there's ambiguity over the question of who did the exam, the applications will be rejected.
 
This distinction is important. Patients whose applications are denied will have to wait six months to reapply, even if they've already been stuck in limbo for months, due to a clause in Amendment 20, the measure that legalized medical marijuana in Colorado. In contrast, patients whose applications are rejected can reapply right away, and additional fees will be waived.
 
Why use the term "denied" in some cases and "rejected" in others? Doesn't that punish some patients more severely than others without regard to whether they bear any responsibility or blame for the recommendation form issue? When asked this question, Dr. Urbina insisted that he was following the letter of the law, even though no document we've been able to find explains the distinction between "denied" and "rejected" the CDPHE is using.
 

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Netherlands Stops Tourists Buying Marijuana in Coffee Shops

Category: News | Posted on Thu, December, 15th 2011 by THCFinder
Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Foreigners traveling to the Netherlands will be barred from buying marijuana in so-called coffee shops next year, a move that could hurt tourism to the capital, Amsterdam.
 
“There will be an end to the open-door policy,” Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said in a letter to lawmakers today. “Stricter rules will make coffee shops smaller, better controllable and reduce the attractiveness of Dutch drug policy for foreign users.”
 
The Netherlands decriminalized the use of marijuana in 1976, stopping short of legalizing the drug because international treaties prohibited it from doing so. The country’s first coffee shop, named after Donovan’s song “Mellow Yellow,” opened its doors four years earlier.
 
While the 223 Amsterdam coffee shops are visited by about 1 million tourists annually, they’ll now only be allowed to sell to Dutch citizens and foreigners who live in the country. Every coffee shop can register as many as 2,000 members who are allowed to buy marijuana or hashish, the minister wrote.
 
“Tourists will come anyway,” Iris Reshef, a spokeswoman for the city of Amsterdam, said by telephone today. “We prefer selling it in a responsible way instead of going back to the days that street dealers in the Red Light district sold soft drugs alongside hard drugs” like cocaine and heroin.
 
Maastricht, a city near the borders with Belgium and Germany, is satisfied with the new rules, Mayor Onno Hoes told news agency ANP today. The southern Dutch city has been seeking ways to cut crime and public nuisance that accompanies marijuana sales to foreigners.
 
The government will use its embassies to inform tourists traveling to the Netherlands about the new policy. Police will act if street dealers try to fill the gap, Charlotte Menten, a ministry spokeswoman, said by telephone today.
 
“The members-only rule is meant for public nuisance at coffee shops near the border, where foreigners line up their cars to buy,” said Reshef. She said the city of Amsterdam is still in talks with the ministry, adding that the border situation can’t be compared to Amsterdam’s.
 
The government will start enforcing the new rules in May in the southern provinces and in 2013 in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam.
 

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CBS4 hints fed crackdown on MMCs near schools is coming -- but is it?

Category: News | Posted on Thu, December, 15th 2011 by THCFinder
‚ÄčAccording to this report, CBS4 has information that points to a potential federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations within 1,000 feet of schools.
But it's unclear when any federal action would happen, or what it might look like if it does.
 
In the report on view below, correspondent Rick Sallinger says "dispensaries that receive the letters will be given 45 days to shut down or move operations. If they don't comply, they will be shut down by the U.S. attorney in Colorado." The report says the dispensaries are targeted because the 1,000 feet rule is a big factor in federal drug case sentencing, greatly increasing the charges.
 
Investigative reporter Sallinger doesn't disclose the source his information. But no letters have been sent to any dispensaries as of noon today, and the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Colorado said he did not have any information on the matter. Moreover, there's nothing on the office's website about the memos or possible federal action.
 
State law forbids dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools, treatment centers, universities, seminaries and daycare facilities. But there are several shops that were grandfathered in.
 
In addition, Colorado law does not prohibit grow facilities from being within 1,000 feet of these facilities. Since they are often hidden in plain sight, it's hard to tell just how many are in this range.
 

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Colorado to join other states asking feds to reclassify marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Thu, December, 8th 2011 by THCFinder
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire have petitioned the federal government to change the schedule of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, a move they claim will remove the conflict between federal and state drug laws, which will in turn allow for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. Colorado will file its own request before the end of the year.
 
Shortly after filing the petition, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed on as well. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper apparently has no plans to sign the petition, but Colorado will file its own request to reclassify marijuana.
 
Currently, marijuana is listed as Schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Administration alongside heroin and LSD, which means that the federal government considers marijuana to have no accepted medical use.
 
“This is a good first step, in that it shows that politicians are catching up with the scientific consensus, which is that marijuana has medical value,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “If it succeeds, federal law will finally acknowledge that fact. Rescheduling marijuana, however, will not change the federal penalties for possessing, cultivating, or distributing medical marijuana,” he said in a prepared statement. “That is the change we really need. These governors should be insisting that the federal government allow them to run their medical marijuana operations the ways they see fit, which should include selling medical marijuana through state-licensed dispensaries.”
 

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Cops Fired For Supporting Marijuana Legalization

Category: News | Posted on Mon, December, 5th 2011 by THCFinder
PHOENIX — Border Patrol agents pursue smugglers one moment and sit around in boredom the next. It was during one of the lulls that Bryan Gonzalez, a young agent, made some comments to a colleague that cost him his career.
 
Looking for signs of smugglers near Nogales, Ariz., alongside the fence that now marks part of the nation's border with Mexico.
 
Stationed in Deming, N.M., Mr. Gonzalez was in his green-and-white Border Patrol vehicle just a few feet from the international boundary when he pulled up next to a fellow agent to chat about the frustrations of the job. If marijuana were legalized, Mr. Gonzalez acknowledges saying, the drug-related violence across the border in Mexico would cease. He then brought up an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that favors ending the war on drugs.
 
Those remarks, along with others expressing sympathy for illegal immigrants from Mexico, were passed along to the Border Patrol headquarters in Washington. After an investigation, a termination letter arrived that said Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”
 
After his dismissal, Mr. Gonzalez joined a group even more exclusive than the Border Patrol: law enforcement officials who have lost their jobs for questioning the war on drugs and are fighting back in the courts.
 

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