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Congressional Spending Bill Blocks DEA Medical Marijuana Raids

Category: News | Posted on Wed, December, 10th 2014 by THCFinder
bill-blocks-dea-raidsWhat a wild day yesterday. As I was sitting in my cubicle reading tweets earlier in the day, it seemed that Washington D.C.’s  marijuana legalization bill was going to be entirely scrapped in a backdoor deal between Democrats and Republicans. As the day progressed, it appeared that possession and cultivation of marijuana in D.C. would move forward, but that Congress wouldn’t approve marijuana sales. Ultimately, the language that was agreed upon in the spending bill that will determine D.C.’s legalization implementation was somewhat vague. Some belief there’s wiggle room to implement legalization in some fashion, others don’t. There will no doubt be a battle over implementation, as there was with medical marijuana in D.C., so activists need to keep the pressure on as much as possible.
 
Something that was included in the spending bill’s language was a ban on using funds for federal medical marijuana raids and hemp enforcement. Those provisions brought praise from Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority, who sent me the following message:
 
“Congressional leaders seem to have finally gotten the message that a supermajority of Americans wants states to be able to implement sensible marijuana reforms without federal interference. This legislation greatly reduces the chances that costly and senseless DEA raids will come between seriously ill patients and the doctor-recommended medicine they need for relief. Now that Congress has created political space by taking this important legislative step, there are no remaining excuses for the Obama administration not to exercise its executive power to reschedule marijuana immediately. The attorney general can begin that process today with the stroke of a pen.”
 
Below is the actual language regarding hemp and medical marijuana from the spending bill, also provided by the Marijuana Majority:
 
“Sec. 538. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
 
“Sec. 539. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (“Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
 
“Section 538 prohibits the Department of Justice from preventing certain States from implementing State laws regarding the use of medical marijuana.”
 
“Section 539 prohibits the use of funds by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration in contravention of a certain section of the Agricultural Act of 2014.”
 
Yesterday was a bitter sweet day. Medical marijuana aids were de-funded, but Washington D.C.’s marijuana legalization is in limbo. Please contact your members of Congress and tell them to respect the will of D.C. voters. Tell them that vague language is far from good enough – we need full assurances that D.C. residents will be allowed to possess, cultivate, and gift marijuana as Initiative 71 outlined. Or even better – approve taxing and sales of marijuana.
 

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Researchers Working On Creating A Marijuana Breathalyzer

Category: News | Posted on Tue, December, 9th 2014 by THCFinder
researches-working-on-a-mj-breathalyzerThere’s a handful of people working on a marijuana breathalyzer right now. Some have been at it for a few years, and others, like some researchers at Washington State University, are just starting. Per Oregon Live:
 
Hill said he and WSU doctoral student Jessica Tufariello are working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC in someone’s breath.
 
Right now, officers and prosecutors rely on blood tests to determine how much active THC is present in a driver’s blood. Those test results aren’t immediately available to patrol officers who suspect someone is driving high.
 
There was a lot of media buzz last week when the research was announced out of Washington, with even many marijuana media outlets claiming that its going to be the future of how marijuana DUIIs are determined. However, I doubt this research, or any research involving a marijuana breathalyzer, will ever be used by officers in the field. Marijuana breathalyzers are built on junk science. Yes, they may eventually be able to detect if a person has marijuana in their system. However, they won’t be able to tell what level of active THC is in a person’s system, or how long ago they consumed marijuana, or most importantly if the person is impaired or not. Marijuana does not affect the system like alcohol does.
 

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Court Strikes Down Mandatory Drug Testing For Florida Welfare

Category: News | Posted on Fri, December, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
no-wellfare-drug-testing-flArbitrary, mandatory drug testing is wrong, no matter when such a policy is applied. That includes mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants. Eleven states have passed some form of drug testing for welfare applicants. Florida was unique in that it didn’t have a suspicion based policy for drug testing applicants. Florida required all applicants, no matter what, to have to submit to drug testing. That policy was shot down yesterday by a federal appeals court. Per the New York Times:
 
A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits even if they are not suspected of drug use, a measure pushed by Gov. Rick Scott in his first term in office.
 
The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that the law, one of the strictest in the country, was an unreasonable search because Florida officials had failed to show a “substantial need” to test all people who applied for welfare benefits. Applicants were required to submit to urine tests, a measure that Mr. Scott said would protect children of welfare applicants by ensuring that their parents were not buying and using drugs.
 
“The state has not demonstrated a more prevalent, unique or different drug problem among TANF applicants than in the general population,” the panel said in its unanimous decision, using an acronym for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
 
It will be interesting to see if this case gets challenged all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, and if so, how the Court rules. Will the Court rule that mandatory testing is OK? Will they say that suspicion based testing is OK, but not requiring each and every applicant to test? Or will they throw the entire concept out of the window? Only time will tell.
 

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Washington DC Council Bans Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

Category: News | Posted on Thu, December, 4th 2014 by THCFinder
pre-employment-marijuana-testing-banned-in-waThe pre-employment marijuana test has plagued job seeking marijuana consumers for many, many years. There have been numerous jobs in my life that I would have been great at, and that I desperately needed at the time, but I couldn’t pass the pre-employment drug test because I knew I had marijuana in my system. I know that I’m not alone. Fortunately for Washington D.C. residents, arbitrary pre-employment drug testing for marijuana was banned by the D.C. Council this week. Per the DCist:
 
The D.C. Council unanimously passed temporary legislation yesterday that will prohibit an employer from drug-testing potential employees for marijuana before a conditional job offer has been made.
 
The bill, the “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014″ was introduced by Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) in March of this year, and explicitly states that an employer cannot test a potential employee for marijuana use until after an offer for employment has been made. After an employee has been hired, however, they “must still adhere to the workplace policies set forth by their employer.”
 
The bill still allows employers to require a drug test after employment has been offered, so applicants still run the risk of not getting the job. However, that denial of employment due to a failed UA will only come after the job has been offered. I’d love to see how many employers get as far as screening applicants, determining which one is the best fit, offering the position to what they feel is the best candidate, then have to grapple with a failed UA by said candidate. The candidate will have risen above everyone else, and employers will be forced to face their reefer madness fears and balance that against what seems in every way to be a qualified employee and the decision to retain that employee. From my experience, marijuana consumers can be very excellent employees. They shouldn’t be discriminated against solely because they choose to unwind with a substance that is far safer than alcohol or tobacco, two substances that most employers don’t deny employment for.
 

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Washington School Refuses $14,000 Donation From Marijuana Farmer

Category: News | Posted on Tue, December, 2nd 2014 by THCFinder
wa-school-refuses-mj-farmers-donationLegalizing marijuana has done big things for schools in Washington and Colorado. A portion of marijuana taxes goes towards much needed school funding, which is a great thing. However, despite schools being cash strapped and needing all the help they can get, it hasn’t stopped a school in Prosser, Washington from refusing a sizable donation from a marijuana grower. Per the Seattle Times:
 
School officials Monday flatly turned down a $14,000 donation from a local marijuana farmer, taking a strong stand against youth marijuana use.
 
“We’re not taking it; end of story,” said Ray Tolcacher, Prosser School District superintendent.
 
The donor, Randy Williams, now is looking for another local recipient.
 
“I never thought it’d be a problem to give money away,” said the owner of Fireweed Farms, a marijuana producer.
 
Imagine how many books $14,000 could have bought? Or computers? Or school lunches for children that don’t get enough to eat at home? It’s a sad thing that reefer madness is so pervasive in some areas that a school won’t accept a donation, simply because it came from a marijuana grower. It sounds like Fireweed Farms is trying to see if the local Boys and Girls Club will accept the donation. I sure hope so, because $14,000 would pay for a lot of things for underprivileged youth.
 

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Support For New York Marijuana Decriminalization Far Higher Than For Mayor

Category: News | Posted on Mon, December, 1st 2014 by THCFinder
support-high-for-ny-marijuana-decrimDuring the 2014 Election, we found out that support for marijuana reform was higher than support was for most popular candidates. New York City did not have an initiative on the ballot (New York does not have an initiative process), but New York City did decriminalize marijuana. A new Quinnipiac Poll has found that marijuana decriminalization in New York City is far more popular than Mayor Bill de Blasio. Per Quinnipiac:
 
New York City voters approve 71 – 26 percent of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but give the mayor an overall 49 – 36 percent job approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
 
Today’s rating compares to a 50 – 32 percent job approval in an August 26 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. The racial divide over Mayor de Blasio grows wider, with black approval at 71 – 14 percent and Hispanic approval at 56 – 27 percent, as white voters disapprove 50 – 34 percent.
 
Support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana is 51 – 45 percent among Republicans and over 66 percent among every other party, gender or racial group. Even voters over 65 years old support it 66 – 31 percent. Support in the boroughs ranges from 65 – 31 percent in Queens to 84 – 14 percent in Manhattan.
 
New York City voters say 70 – 27 percent that decriminalizing simple marijuana possession will not lead to an increase in crime, an opinion shared by every group listed.
 
I’d love to see a similar poll, but for full marijuana legalization. If just about any politician in New York City or New York State went head to head with marijuana reform, I bet reform would win just about every time. I’m hopeful for New York to legalize marijuana in 2016, but it will be an uphill battle since New York does not have an initiative system, as previously mentioned.
 

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